A Balanced Approach to Literacy
(Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst)
What is the “right” way to teach my child how to read and write?
Should I teach my child their letters?
How do I know if my child is ready to read?
These are big questions that many parents worry about as their children get closer to preschool. Oftentimes parents want to know exactly when and how to ensure that their child will be able to read before they get to kindergarten. The good news for parents is: there isn’t a one size fits all plan to do this!
This is good news because children are unique and develop at their own pace. It helps take some of the pressure off you and your child. Just because your neighbor’s child knows her letters at age 3, doesn’t mean something is wrong with your child if she doesn’t.
Every child comes to school with a different set of experiences with and knowledge of reading and writing. However, the more exposure and opportunities children have to read and write, the more they will be able to build upon these experiences to improve their literacy skills. Literacy skills include:
- phonics (how letters and group of letters look and sound)
- phonemic awareness (being able to hear, identify and manipulate sounds or phonemes)
- reading comprehension
- oral and speaking skills
It is the job of parents to build upon a child’s individuality and adjust their expectations and actions accordingly. In addition, parents should make sure to provide numerous opportunities for children to become exposed to a variety of experiences to practice literacy skills such as (but not limited to):
- Creating a literacy-rich home environment that includes lots of print and opportunities for kids to read, write, and speak
- Reading independently and with others (read alouds)
- Exposure to a variety of reading materials including fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, and books on tape
- Playing games/activities that focus on letter names/sounds and rhyming
- Access to and opportunities to write for many purposes (grocery lists, stories, letters) and with a variety of writing materials
Children want to and should have fun while they are growing and learning. It is a relief to know that preparing your child to become a reader and writer doesn’t have to follow a set of rules that must be followed by a certain age.