In order to make a good start in reading, your child needs you to talk and listen to them. Whether you’re at home, on the bus, in the shops or at the doctors surgery, there are countless opportunities to help your child to learn by talking and reading together.
Reading aloud to children is the best way to get them interested in reading. Before long they will grow to love stories and books. Eventually they will want to read on their own.
Reading stories with your child, if only for 10 minutes a day, helps build important skills as well as capturing your child’s interest in books. Books are a rich source of information for your child. From their earliest days babies enjoy listening to stories and looking at books. If possible it can become a special part of the bedtime routine, a useful winding down time at the end of a busy day!
To help your child develop a love of reading:
• spend a few minutes a day telling stories and reading together, and make it fun by choosing books you both enjoy
• talk about the pictures and characters in the books and make up your own stories
• read as you walk down the street and round the shops, pointing out signs and words and talking about them
• buy books as presents and join a local library
Reading can be a family activity. Spending time with word games, stories, and books will help your child to:
• gather information and learn about the world
• learn how stories and books work – that they have beginnings, endings, characters, and themes
• build a rich vocabulary by reading and talking about new words
• learn how to listen and how to think
• learn the sounds of language and language patterns
• fall in love with books
Learning about letters
As children grow older they begin to understand more about the sounds of our language and can join in with rhymes, songs and stories. Over time this will help your child develop an understanding that words are made up of different sounds. Soon they will be able to hear these different sounds in words.
Gradually they will learn to match sounds to letters. To help this learning process you can:
• sing nursery rhymes and songs together, sometimes pointing to the words in a book
• play games with sounds, making up silly words that all begin with the same sound (for example the first sound in their name)
• get your child to spot letters they recognise in words (for example the first letter of their name)
• look at brochures and catalogues together, pointing out words printed in bold or with unusual fonts
• play ‘I spy’, as children get older, to help them listen to the sounds different words begin with …