For Rising Readers: Pre-Literacy Tips for Parents of Young Children
Jan 23, 2023
I am a parent of three children with dyslexia. I’ve recently realized that I have dyslexia myself! My fourth child is only three years old, but I’m starting to get nervous. What can I do to get her ready for school? Kindergarten is only a few years away!!
I really want my four-year-old to get a head start on reading. Which set of alphabet flash cards should I get? Do you think they’ll be able to read Hop on Pop by the time they turn five?
To the Panicking Parents and Eager Readers,
I confess… I made up these advice questions! But I hear similar questions and stories often! Please don’t run out and buy alphabet flash cards for your three-year-old, insisting on after-dinner drill time. They are not ready for that! Please don’t let your nerves get the better of you, either. Follow these fun, well-researched tips instead, and your child will get to enjoy their early years while gaining prerequisite literacy skills:
Narrate your life. Use rich vocabulary words to explain everything around. Point to objects and features in the environment. Describe the temperature outside, the texture of a friendly dog’s fur, the tastes and smells and names of the foods on the dinner plate. Become the chattiest of Cathies and your child will thank you later; exposure to language leads to better readers and writers.
Create a positive association with reading and language.
Sit your child on your lap (this part is important: physical closeness and love paired with joyful reading experiences) and read books of all kinds! Point to the words with your finger as you’re reading so they can begin to understand the directionality of reading (left to right, down the page, left page first, then the right, turn the right page). Ask your child questions about the story - the kinds of questions that require them to use words to think and explain, not just yes-or-no's!
When your child is playing on the floor nearby, read your own novel or newspaper aloud. Children at very early ages pick up on the nuanced grammar of text, and hearing it now will help them later on.
Play with words. Sing songs and nursery rhymes, particularly ones with rhyming and alliteration! Your child’s phonological awareness (the most important predecessor to reading) will be strengthened, and joy and laughter will abound.
Fill your home with books. If you aren’t already, become a family of book lovers! The number of books in a home directly correlates to reading abilities later on. If this isn’t possible, make the library your second home.
A few words of caution:
Take early childhood ear infections seriously. These are known to lead to reading issues later on.
Do not attempt to teach your young child to read. It will not be fun for anyone involved, and it will not work. Our brains are not developed enough to do the complex blending of newly learned symbol-sounds (letters) until we are around 7 years old!
Will these tips cure your child’s dyslexia? No. Dyslexia is not a disease; it has no cure. In fact, dyslexia often comes with special gifts and talents. So no cure is necessary!
Will your child still struggle with reading and spelling in a traditional school system? Probably. But hear me out: these early literacy builders will set your child up to achieve academic success as well as avoid the tears and school anxiety many dyslexic students face. You have what you need to pave the way for a love for learning that will bolster your youngster throughout their academic life and guide them to discover their greatest passions. Now, put down the computer, grab a book and your comfiest reading chair, and have some fun with your little one.
If you or someone you know struggled with reading as a child and has a rising kindergartener, check Horizon Academy’s kindergarten readiness summer program by visiting our website in January or reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org