Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reading with Preschoolers: Part 1

As tomorrow is Read Across America, I thought I'd share a few thoughts about teaching your child to read. 

If you've followed this blog very long, you've likely realized that I don't offer many printables or worksheets.  I've had some readers question this, and I've also missed out on some opportunities to promote my blog because I don't have these things! 

(Really, it comes down to my educational philosophy, I guess.  I suppose I should write more about that -- maybe another day!!)

Now, don't get me wrong:  I am not saying worksheets are bad -- I just don't think they are necessary for little ones!  I like to see preschoolers building with blocks, playing outside, using their imaginations, and thumbing through books rather than filling out a worksheet!

And so, the ideas I'm going to share about teaching your child to read have nothing to do with worksheets or pages of phonics (although I do believe phonics are necessary for a balanced approach to reading)!

I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but I believe these components are absolutely essential to build proficient and avid readers!

(My little reader!!)

1)  Read aloud to your child.  Often.
Probably not what you expected for my top idea, huh?  However, this is absolutely the most crucial part of teaching your child to read.  They must be immersed in books!  And it needs to be often throughout the day!  A token book before bed is not what I'm talking about here (although I'm guilty of this sometimes)!  Chunks of time devoted to reading aloud throughout the day are going to make reading come alive for your child (you should even read to your babies and toddlers -- I used to read to the girls while they were in their high chairs)!  

One of my favorite books about how and why you should read aloud to your child is The Read-Aloud Handbook from Jim Trelease.  Equally inspiring is Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox.

2)  Read beside your child.
Do your children see you reading?  You can't expect them to embrace something you don't model!!  Even if it is just 10 or 15 minutes reading a chapter from a book, your children can see that reading is important to you. They are watching you!

Here's how we do it:  our Bible time in the morning consists of me reading my Bible and the girls "reading" their Bibles right alongside me.  We also have a quiet time in the afternoon where we all read our own books. 
Also, I really want to encourage dads here!  Please, read in front of your children.  Little boys especially NEED to see you reading and to hear you read aloud to them! 
3)  Fill your home with print.
A "print-rich" environment is correlated with academic success, so fill your home with books, magazines, and newpapers!  Even when my girls were babies, I had a basket of board books in the living room and baskets of books in their bedrooms.  Now, each girl has her own bookshelf filled with books! 

You may not have a lot of room, but even just a box of books under the bed is an excellent start!  If money is an issue, look at garage sales, used bookstores, or an online service like Paperback Swap

On Thursday, I'll share a few more tips to help your little one become a reader in Part 2 of this series!!



Anonymous Terri said...

Love this!! :) We are all about the reading at our house...and the books. Oh my, the books...lol

March 1, 2011 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Bobbie Mackey said...

don't forget the library! most library cards are free of charge, and your super friendly library lady would be happy to find age appropriate books for your kiddos with lots of early literacy tips, and how to get even the youngest of kids ready to learn to read!

(yes, i truly love my job! lol)

March 1, 2011 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

Hi, Bobbie! I'm posting about that Thursday!! It actually deserves a whole section to itself!! :)

March 1, 2011 at 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

I work outside of the home, so I don't have as many opportunities to read throughout the day to my 3 yr old, but we read every night for a half an hour, and it's almost always my favorite part of the day. We just came back from the library this past weekend and checked out some non-fiction books (about birds, which is the latest obsession) and my little one was fascinated with the information and how those books were so different from the picture books we read.

Also, on a side note Stacie, I lived in Winfield for 5 years as a young child and it's the place I call home. Loved, loved, loved Island Park...is is still around?

March 1, 2011 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger Joslyn said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. As an early childhood educator, it drives me CRAZY when people think they need to do worksheets with their toddlers/preschoolers! Seriously?! It's not age appropriate AND it teaches them nothing (usually).

I love teaching and wish that I could just hit parents over the head sometimes with truths much like you have here. Also note - reading and spending time with your children will also improve behavior issues. (Try it, you'll see!)

Anyway - thanks for your post! Inspires me to maybe write up some stuff parents should know...

Joslyn over at Organized Chaos (joslynkeathley@blogspot.com)

March 1, 2011 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

Hi, Lisa!

Yes, Island Park is still around -- and it has an AMAZING playground now! My girls call it the "castle park" because of the huge castle in the middle of the playground!

I applaud you for taking the time to read to your little one. It makes all the difference!

Joslyn -- I definitely agree with you about the behavior. Little ones need our attention, and when my girls are acting up, I spend some time with them and it's amazing how much it helps!!

I'm definitely not trying to be rude or anything (my girls actually like doing worksheets), but I think having little ones filling out worksheet after worksheet is definitely not developmentally appropriate!!

March 2, 2011 at 6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I was amazingly lucky as a child. The written word was a huge part of life in our family. We had access to all the books we wanted. We had regular read-aloud times. But it wasn't just that. My parents read everything to and with us from the time we were babies. We read cereal boxes at breakfast. We read the comics in the newspapers. We read labels at the stores. We read funny jokes from magazines. We read road signs and billboards.

I remember when I started working at a daycare with 1s & 2s, I was appalled that the books were all put up so that the kids wouldn't tear them up. I went to Goodwill, the dollar store and used book stores and stocked up on cheap board books. I re-enforced them with clear packing tape, and put them down where the kids could pull them out and look at them whenever they wanted.

I had 3 reading times every day, at least. We took books out to the playground. I posted pictures and words around the room, even in the bathroom above the changing table. My two year olds practiced making the first letter of their name with finger paints. We read their name labels on their cubbies. When I had a cranky one, or one that wouldn't fall asleep at nap time, I'd carry them around and read the things on the walls.

This integration of reading with daily life was something that was totally natural to me, having been raised that way myself.

March 2, 2011 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger Prairie Cate said...

This post got me thinking about how learning to read may shift as print materials go to the wayside. Already the computer and Kindle are taking over my house, despite the excess of books we've got stacked in every available nook. Any thoughts on how this cultural shift may or may not affect learning to read? And as a side note, are you familiar with Starfall.com and if so, do you have an opinion about it? xxo

March 2, 2011 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

@stevishabitat -- It is awesome the kind of childhood you had and that you are sharing it with others. It is very sad, but there are many children who don't even own one book of their own. It is sad!

Catherine -- I don't know exactly what it is going to do. I do know that little ones need those books to carry around though -- a Kindle is just not the best thing for a toddler, I don't think!! I know they have various types of ebooks/eReaders aimed at children. I think there is a place for those -- but I just love to thumb through a book. Sometimes I get sick of looking at my computer screen!!

There is a book you should see if you can get on interlibrary loan -- it is very interesting and I think you would find it interesting as well (but I never know)!! It is called Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson, and in it shares literature choices to read to your child to encourage nobleness, goodness, beauty, etc. Not just moral stories, but beautifully written books. She also discusses some of the current research about where we are as far as literacy is concerned in the States.

I've only looked at Starfall a little bit. I think it can definitely be incorporated into learning to read -- though I think your interaction with Sophie is most critical.

March 2, 2011 at 12:58 PM  

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