Discovering the Written Word
Most kindergartners are on the threshold of becoming readers. At this stage, children typically “read” by looking at the printed word, but they often rely on their memory of the story and on the pictures. Kindergarten teachers immerse children in the world of the printed word so that many read some simple books by the end of the year. At home, you can extend your child’s budding literacy skills by reading and writing together as much as possible, by encouraging your child to read, by playing language and letter games, and by introducing new words when talking together.
In just five years, the typical kindergartner has learned to understand all of the grammatical structures in her native language. She can listen to and tell complex stories. She can play with language by rhyming and listing words that begin with the same sound. Kindergartners begin to explore the relationships between listening and speaking and reading and writing. They learn which letters and sounds go together, recognize some common words, remember and create stories, and use all of these skills to read simple books and write simple messages.
Weaving language and literacy into everyday activities at home helps your kindergartner develop as a reader and writer. Simple projects like writing a grocery list together, making words with magnetic refrigerator letters, or just talking about what you see as you ride the bus can become important moments in your child’s literacy development. Learn more ways you can support and inspire your kindergartner as he inches towards literacy.
How to Help Your Kindergartner Learn to Read and Write
- Use new words when you talk to your child. You can help your child become a reader by introducing new words when you speak. Having a strong vocabulary and being able to understand complex language will help her understand stories she hears and will eventually read herself.
- Read many kinds of books to your child. When you vary book choices to include poetry and nonfiction, you show your child new words, ways to tell stories, and information about the world. Listening to different kinds of books will help him understand as he begins to read himself.
- Help your child read when he needs it. Kindergartners can “read” books with simple words and patterns by themselves&emdash;mostly by remembering the story and looking at the pictures. Offer your help in sounding out or reading the words only when your child really needs it.
- Make words with play letters. Playing with letters together is a way to help your kindergartner learn about the relationship between letters and sounds. Ask your child to spell some words with magnetic letters and then invite him to make up words for you to try.
- Help your child write what she thinks and feels. Encourage your child to express ideas and emotions by writing them down, and offer your help as needed. A birthday card, a letter, and even a grocery list are all ways of communicating thoughts and emotions.
Next: Learn about your kindergartner’s listening abilities.