by Dorothy Milne
Have you ever heard the phrase “a child’s home is their first classroom?” Most people would agree that reading with your child on a regular basis is important. But did you know there are many fun and engaging activities you can do at home that can help develop your child’s interest in reading? Some don’t even have to happen during story-time! Here’s a list of easy ways you can support your preschool-aged child’s literacy development:
- Talk, talk, and more talk! As you go about your daily routines, talk about what you are doing. Encourage your child to ask questions. There are many opportunities to introduce new vocabulary just as you go about washing the dishes, sorting the laundry, or walking through your community.
- And talk some more! Tell stories about your childhood, or retell favourite books or stories told by Elders in your community when you were a child. Encourage your child to share stories about their day, both real and imagined!
- Incorporate music. Many children love to sing or listen to music. Singing songs, both familiar and new, is a great way of drawing attention to language.
- Encourage imaginative play. Tell stories using a favourite stuffed toy or provide opportunities for your child to play dress-up. Much of what children learn at a young age is achieved through play. Play matching games, or games that don’t require any materials at all such as “Eye Spy” or “20 Questions.”
- Look at your community. As you walk or drive through the community, point out and discuss different signs and logos to develop your child’s print awareness.
And when it’s time to read books…
- Make reading a part of your daily routine. Reading throughout the day is ideal but sometimes it is not always realistic in terms of everybody’s busy schedule! Setting aside one time of day such as pre-naptime or pre-bedtime as a dedicated reading time with you and your child ensures that each day, your child enjoys some quiet reading time with you.
- Make space for books. Does your child have a special book or set of books? Setting aside a special space or bookshelf for your child to keep their books attributes value to them. It is also a good way of keeping track of where borrowed books are in a busy household!
- Visit a library. Speaking of borrowing books…does your community have a local library? If so, a trip to the library on a regular basis is an excellent way to expose your child to a rich variety of books and perhaps even take part in some wonderful free programs. Children love options when it comes to picking books, and it’s okay if they want to choose the same book several weeks in a row! Providing opportunities for making choices also builds confidence in young children. Libraries often have a great selection of CDs, either with music or recorded books. If there is no library in your local community, check and see if there is a Borrower by Mail service offered within your territory or province. Some libraries also allow you to access e-books online with a library card!
These are just a few of the activities you can do with your child at home. Watch this space for further posts about how to support your school-age and teenage children at home, too. In the meantime, please share some of your favourite games, songs, and book-loving activities in the comments below!
Dorothy Milne is a teacher, educational writer, and consultant living in Toronto, Canada. She has worked in schools with students and teachers in Canada, the United States, Germany, and Sri Lanka.