While the simple act of reading to your child is an absolute, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few tips that our teachers use in the classroom to enhance the reading experience and to further your child’s kindergarten readiness skills.
The preschool classroom is a literacy enriched environment. Chairs, doors, bins, cubbies, tables, shelves are labeled with words. Book shelves are filled with fiction and non-fiction literature. Science tables are labeled with the latest gems that the teachers have displayed. Books are read to the children individually, in small groups and at circle time.
A minimum of three books are read to your child each day he/she is in attendance. The content of the books are carried into free play and expounded upon with the theme of the day. Why are the classrooms literature based? Research has proven that the single most important determinate of your child’s success in school is whether or not they have been read to at an early age. Picture book reading provides children with many of the skills that are necessary for school readiness: increased vocabulary, understanding that print has meaning, the structure of stories and language, the ability to have a sustainable attention span, that there is a direct correspondence between letters and sounds, the pleasure of learning, and on and on.
It is important for children to become familiar with what these three things mean. Explain that the author is the person that wrote the book and the illustrator made the pictures. If your child has a favorite author, make him/her aware that the same person wrote more than one book. Lay them down in front of your child and talk about how they are the same and different.
As you read to your child, stop now and then and ask your child what they think will happen next. Make predictions with them. Model that it is okay to make a prediction that is incorrect.
The illustrations not only tell the story along with the print, but add expression to the characters. You and your child may find that the illustrator added clues as to what is about to happen. Jill Barton does wonderful illustrations for In the Rain with Baby Duck. The grim expressions on Baby Duck’s face, the hump of his shoulders as he walks, Grampa asking him to find the green bag in the attic are a few of my favorite spots to stop and engage your child.
When you have finished reading the story, ask your child questions. Why do you think the ladybug was grouchy? Do you remember who came to the door first? The goal is to engage your child in the story.
Children love to read the same book over and over again. They love the rhythm and predictability of the story. When they can repeat the book with you, they feel empowered as emergent readers.
Reading with expression engages your child and invites them into the story. Remember that reading to your child should be fun for both you and your child.
Our reading challenge will begin this week, with the theme that Reading Gives You Super Powers. We are asking that you read to your child often, writing down the titles of the books that you have read. Every 25 books read will be rewarded in the office with stickers, prizes, and even new books. When your child reaches 150 books they will be rewarded with a very cool t-shirt. We hope that your family will have lots of cuddle time, curled on the couch with a few good books.
Sincerely, Robin Ozbolt