Preschoolers are mostly in the pre-reading stage. They are able to repeat materials that have been read out to them over and over again. Though they are not able to identify words on a page, they do understand that books have a meaning. They also know that groups of letters written on a page stand for words.
Learning to read has several stages. There are a number of skills that, when developed in young children can contribute to later success with reading and writing. Learning the alphabets is one of them. Eventually, children learn to put together letters and sounds to read words and sentences. When they can decode, or sound out, new words on their own, children are considered to be “reading”. Writing comes much later.
Some of the learning skills necessary to help the child “read” are:
- Alphabet Knowledge: Teaching the child identify the alphabets through songs and games. This can be done by singing the alphabet and number song and making the child look for letters of the alphabets or numbers.
- Phonological awareness: Play word and rhyming games to increase the child’s ability to hear and manipulate the sounds of spoken language. Nursery rhymes and sing-along games spark a child’s delight in the sounds of language.
- Rapid Naming: The child can be asked to quickly name random series of letters, numbers, colours or objects.
- Phonological memory: Repeated reading of the same book helps a child gradually memorize the text and enhances the child’s listening comprehension. The child should be encouraged to “read” the story, using what he/she has memorized to retell the story.
- Writing letters: Without using any writing materials, a child can be made to “write” for example, by scribbling on the sand, writing/painting with sponge etc. Chalks and crayons may be used later on.
There are plenty of foundation skills young children can build that will contribute to their future reading and writing success. These skills need to be nurtured and reinforced to help the child make further progress. The parents should avoid the temptation to jump into any formal training curriculum before the child is motivated to do so.