Introduction

Reading is an essential foundational skill for all children. Teaching reading is more, however, than teaching a specific set of reading strategies. Reading comprehension is a complex process that involves knowledge, experience, thinking and teaching.

Teachers and parents need to look at the holistic child. Working on self-esteem and confidence is critical and the results will be evident in children’s reading and comprehension.

If children are to become thoughtful, insightful readers, they must merge their thinking with the text, beyond superficial understanding. Comprehension involves readers thinking about what they are learning, not just what they are reading. This might mean understanding a message beyond the literal meaning of a text; for example, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. The underlying message is the importance of sharing and friendship.

I have pulled together my most effective strategies and tips for parents. This article contains pre-reading activities and strategies that focus on building the child’s confidence, exposure and understanding.

It is important that children see themselves as a reader – and have the knowledge that they can be a reader. Confidence is essential to achieve this.

The comprehension elements that we will be working towards are:

Before reading:

  • Prediction

During Reading:

  • Visualization
  • Making connections
  • Questions

After Reading:

  • Determining the main idea
  • Summarizing
  • Checking predictions
  • Making judgments

As with all learning, children must have fun and feel supported. All the activities and strategies I outline take this important consideration into account.

Parents play a critical role in modeling language use and reading behaviors to children. You can:

  • Model useful ways of using language
  • Explain the meaning and purpose behind activities
  • Demonstrate the use of problem solving activities
  • Ask questions to aid comprehension
  • Pause to allow your child time to think and express their ideas
  • Offer new content relevant to the theme unfolding
  • Build on your child’s interests, and
  • Create opportunities for discussion

Parents as Children’s First Teacher

Throughout this book you will notice that some of the chapters have lists of learning stages. These lists give an overview only. All children learn at different rates and through different methods. These stages are to be used as guides only. Speak to your preschool teacher if you have any concerns .

I encourage you to set aside family time to read and incorporate reading comprehension activities into your daily routines.

Through listening and providing encouragement, you build your child’s confidence and interest in reading. Start with short picture books or books with a catchy repetitious phrase to give your child a sense of achievement. For example, “Run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man.” You should also allow your child to choose books that interest them.

Sit side by side, as close as possible so that you can share the book together. Your child is the reader and it is your role to encourage and provide support where necessary. Your child holds the book so, at their own pace, they can:

  • look at the pictures
  • spend time problem solving, and
  • move to the next page.

Read to your child every day simply for enjoyment. I would also encourage you to read every day yourself, in order to provide a good role model for your child.

When you are reading with your child, it is important that you point to the corresponding words to assist your child with association. Ask open-ended questions to encourage discussion (see the ‘Ask More’ Method below).

Encourage your child’s questioning. This is both understanding questions with ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ and being able to ask questions containing those words. Describing things and grouping them develops the language of classifying. Keep answering your child’s questions, even if they have asked them many times before. Sometimes you can see if they can answer their own questions. Ask for your child’s opinion and, eventually, the reasons behind that opinion.

You should guide your child to provide detailed descriptions when they talk. Prompters include:

  • size
  • shape
  • color
  • what things feel like, and
  • for what purpose things are used.

Help your child expand their vocabulary and practice remembering the names of everyday objects. You can make up games, like snap or memory, to help. This can be as simple as asking your child to name the items in the shopping trolley when shopping or, while they are getting dressed, asking them to name the items of clothing as they put each one on.

Telling stories gives a sequence of events and encapsulates a beginning, middle and end. Similarly, by re-enacting or re-telling a story, children are required to remember the sequence.

When you select books for your preschool child, consider enjoyment, as well as developing reading skills. Favorite topics and special interests, such as bears or dinosaurs, will keep your child’s interest. It is also important to introduce other topics to increase your child’s understanding of the world.

Books with repetition and rhyme help children build their language skills and allow children to predict what will happen next.

Choose books with clear illustrations so that children can tell the story for themselves, even from an early age.

Finally, allow your child to handle and care for books. Children’s first experience of reading should be fun and enjoyable for both of you. Children need to be supported with realistic expectations to be able to build their confidence for future reading. You need to avoid putting pressure on your child to have specific reading skills before entering school. I encourage you to have conversations with preschool teachers for guidance and support.

Encouraging Reading, Writing and Learning Behaviors

An essential foundational component of all reading comprehension strategies is to encourage reading, writing and learning behaviors in children.

The main goal is that your child will see themselves as a reader. As part of this, they will show enjoyment and demonstrate a willing attitude to read. Children must be able to talk about reading and the reading process as well as demonstrating an understanding that reading has a purpose.

This will shape learning behaviors that will equip your child to be a critical reader and discern meaning from texts before, during and after the reading experience.

These analytical skills will enable your child to identify connections between texts and their own life experiences. She or he will ultimately be able to apply a range of strategies that are used by “good readers” and locate and read texts that appeal to them individually.

The critical element is to make sure your child is having fun while reading. You can instil in your child that reading is an enjoyable experience. By doing this, you are building fundamental behaviors that will establish competent lifelong readers.

Book Discussion

The ‘Ask More’ Method

Book discussion is an excellent way to ascertain your child’s comprehension. This can be at any stage of reading a book:

  • Before you start reading; after your child has seen the cover and you have read the title
  • After you read each page or at any relevant juncture within the story
  • Upon completion of the book
  • After some time has passed
  • Upon subsequent readings

I use what I like to call the ‘Ask More Method’. Essentially I find that the more you ask, the more children will be challenged to think about their understanding of the book and further demonstrate their comprehension. If you are reading as a family, it also aids comprehension as the children are listening to each other’s answers.

‘Ask More Method’ questions can be as wide-ranging as you like. It can be a useful engagement technique to shape questions that are relevant to your child’s current interests.

Calibrate your questions to suit the abilities of your child and the stage of their education. You can expect more detailed answers as time progresses. Follow direct-answer questions with open-ended questions.

Some ‘Ask More Method’ examples to get you started are:

  • What do you think the book is about? Why do you think that?
  • What will you tell your siblings / friends/ nanna about it?
  • Tell me about your favourite part.
  • What didn’t you like about the book?
  • Did anything in the book make you feel happy / sad / frightened?
  • Which character in the book did you like?
  • Where did that character live or what were they looking for?
  • How would you feel if something happened to you like [X]?
  • Did you hear any rhyming words in the story?

Tips on how to read to your children

Many parents hold concerns or are unsure how best to read books to their children. Here are some of my tips:

  • Choose a special time each day for reading; for example, bedtime.
  • Children enjoy stories and books about other children and events that are relevant to their lives; for example, the arrival of a new sibling.
  • Before reading the book, talk about the book – its title, the pictures, what your child thinks it might be about.
  • Share your child’s enjoyment of the story. Make the book come alive with different voices, facial expressions, actions, tempos and tones. Stop and ask questions about the story to allow your child to predict what will come next.
  • Take the opportunity to practice critical thinking and problem solving. For example, what would your child have done in the same situation as the character?
  • Allow your child to interrupt and ask questions. This is a good opportunity to research with your child to find the answer.
  • Invite your child to read the story to you – it will not be word-for-word, but you might be surprised by how much they can recall!
  • After reading the book, encourage discussion. This could involve reading or looking through the book again.

Reading Aloud

Reading aloud is a powerful strategy for reading comprehension and one that I feel is vital for establishing children’s lifelong living skills. By reading aloud, you are conveying a connection between the written and spoken word.

It is important to have read the book beforehand. This helps ensure that when reading it to your child it flows with appropriate tone and volume of voice. It should be dramatized using different voices for each character.  This way you hold your child’s attention and interest throughout.

Shorter books can be read through a second time, enabling a discussion about relevant concepts and themes. A second reading also allows you to gauge your child’s recall and comprehension.

By retelling or role-playing the story they have listened to, children demonstrate their comprehension. Ask your child to recall the sequence of events; the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Paraphrasing

Encourage your child to develop the skill of paraphrasing, as this will quickly demonstrate their comprehension levels. This could be as simple as asking her / him to put a story that has been read to them into their own words.

You can promote this by posing open-ended questions.

Paraphrasing can be based on a written story, as well as aided by pictures in books, or by using catchy rhymes. A picture book without words can inspire children’s imaginations when they retell the story in their own words.

Another method is to encourage conversations related to the book – this can be consolidated by a second reading of the book.

Book Experiences

Choose books that are in good condition. This helps children learn to respect and look after the books and enjoy them more. Teach your child suitable places to keep a book, for example; a bookshelf. It disappoints me when people give children old books because their expectation is that because they are little they will tear them. It is so important to teach children to respect books from a young age.

You can work with your child to make their own books. This could be through photos, paintings, or on a computer or tablet device – there are so many options!

My class and I made a book called “How the kangaroo learned to jump”. We researched the attributes of a kangaroo, its tail, its shape etc. Each child suggested ways that the kangaroo could move. First the kangaroo tried to swim, then he tried to walk, he tried to climb a tree, climb into an airplane etc. until eventually he learned to jump. Each child illustrated their own page and wrote their name as author and illustrator. We laminated each page and bound it as a book. It was the prized book on the bookshelf throughout the year and very well read.

Also keep in mind that the books we think are enjoyable are not necessarily the ones your child will prefer. Children, like adults, have their favorites. I’m sure we all have experience of children wanting the same book every day.

I have written about the best books for preschool children at www.TicTacTeach.com/preschool-books.

As a parent, you have the opportunity to expose your child to a variety of book experiences. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • library time
  • independent reading
  • social reading
  • reading for fun
  • reading for facts
  • rest time reading

Make sure you visit the library. Consider going to the big library in the city as well – all libraries are different and different things appeal to different children.

If your child likes books by a particular author, then research that author (or illustrator). This can be a fun way to introduce the concept of an “author” and “illustrator” to your child. You can aid this experience by showing a photograph of the author. If you create your own books, this concept is reinforced by putting your child’s name and photo as the author.

For 3 year olds, choose books that:

  • Gradually increase the number of words and sentences
  • Play with rhymes and patterns in stories
  • Show familiar events and start to look at the wider world
  • Have pictures illustrating the words – these show different emotions, including early humor.

For 4 and 5 year olds, choose books that:

  • help children think about how and why things happen
  • have different types of pictures to help children look at detail
  • provide information about going to school and making friends
  • introduce short chapters (for 5 years and older)
  • can be fictional, factual, humorous or imaginative.

Children develop and learn differently and this, as well as your child’s interests and abilities, should be considered carefully when choosing books.

Using Your Community and Surroundings

An important way to encourage reading and reading comprehension is by leveraging your surroundings.

Some of my favorite ways are listed below:

  • Display drawings and ask your child to describe them.
  • Make a daily weather picture chart: cut out pictures of people in different clothes from catalogs. Each day, talk about what the weather will be like and have your child select a suitable picture to stick to the weather chart.
  • Attend a local library for story time sessions.
  • Collect fall leaves and paste them onto a tree that you’ve drawn. Use this to then talk about leaf colors, shapes and textures.
  • Make a food scrapbook from catalogs. Your child can draw a heart on all the food they’ve tried and liked, a question mark on food they haven’t tried yet and a cross or sad face on the food they’ve tried at least twice and really don’t like. This activity is great for vocabulary extension as well as comprehension.
  • When you visit the grocery store take a shopping list of what you need. Refer to the signs above the aisles and point out the words. Encourage awareness of the labels (words and numbers) on the shelves. It can be a useful exercise to look for cereals and similar products that the children will readily identify from home. You could also make a visual shopping list for your child. Shopkeepers are usually quite patient about serving and receiving money from their little customers.
  • Point out road signs when you are out and about.
  • Photo representations alongside words for the daily routine encourage improvements in comprehension; for example, “we eat breakfast before we brush our teeth”. Ask questions regarding the routine; for example “What do we do next?” or “What do we do before lunch?” This will give an indication of your child’s comprehension of the day’s routine.

The key is really exposing your child to the written word in as many scenarios as possible. Within your conversations with your child and through recalling experiences, you can gain an insight into your child’s understanding.

Attention and Concentration Skills

To ascertain your child’s attention and concentration skills, it is essential to first determine if there are any hearing or visual concerns. This is critical.

Throughout the day there are ample opportunities to develop and assess how your child is concentrating and attending to a task. It is helpful to consider the following areas:

Is your child:

  • listening to speech?
  • understanding spoken information and instructions?
  • recognizing rhyming words?
  • speaking (using words, sentences and conversations)?
  • asking and answering questions?
  • following instructions?
  • talking with clear pronunciation?
  • recognizing the difference between words and pictures?
  • drawing and attempting to write (e.g. their own name)?
  • aware that letters in the alphabet have sounds and names?
  • aware of the difference between letters and numbers?
  • problem solving, and displaying curious and deep thinking?
  • confident and emotionally ready for trying new things?
  • independent with self-help skills?
  • using fingers and hands precisely?
  • completing a set task with a desired outcome?

You can download a PDF version of the above considerations at www.TicTacTeach.com/parents-reading-concentration. 

Visual Discrimination

A child’s ability to visually discriminate will impact upon their ability to attain reading competence.

There are many fun and engaging visual discrimination activities and strategies that your child will love. My favorites are puzzles, matching activities and visual aids.

The purpose of practicing visual discrimination skills is to build your child’s eye for detail through pre-reading activities. It will also help build their confidence.

When children are solving puzzles, they can describe what they are actually doing with the puzzles. Start at the left hand side of the puzzle to familarize your child with directional reading. You can read extended information on using puzzles for preschool children and the progression at www.tictacteach.com/puzzles-for-kids.

Activities that require sequencing or building a story with pictures are extremely beneficial. These activities can be self-correcting activities too.

Auditory

Language is both spoken and heard. Understanding sounds and blends is a critical aspect of reading comprehension. This also refers to articulation and pronunciation. Awareness of sounds we hear and the sound of words helps link to the printed word.

Speaking aloud, singing, finger plays, poems and rhymes provide opportunities for children to enjoy the sound of language.

Have fun with sounds – exaggerate them! I find sounds that animals make are always popular with children.

It is important your child can differentiate between similar sounds, such as ‘stop’ and ‘shop’.

Part of understanding sounds is developing listening skills. One good way to do this is to develop a sound tape that accentuates different sounds. You could use animal sounds or household items (for example: bells, whistles or keys), the content doesn’t matter; the point is to get your child ready to hear the differences.

A child’s ability to listen will depend on their concentration, their maturity and sometimes their ability to hear. If you are concerned, a hearing check may be warranted. A speech professional can also determine if it is due to your child’s ability to process instructions.

Songs, rhymes and listening games are all important tools to develop auditory skills. Rhyming books allow children to predict what will happen next in a story. Playing with rhymes helps your child practice sounds.

A great activity is to go on a listening walk with your child to discover how many sounds you can hear outside. Afterwards, you can discuss or draw what was heard.

Below are some of my tried and tested examples of sounds that are fun to recite with children:

  • Ants on the apple; a-a-a
  • Balls are bouncing; b-b-b
  • Caterpillars coughing; c-c-c
  • Dolls are dancing; d-d-d
  • Eggs in the eggcup; e-e-e
  • Flies are flying; f-f-f
  • Goats are giggling; g-g-g
  • Helicopters hovering; h-h-h
  • Iguanas itching; i-i-i
  • Jelly beans jumping; j-j-j
  • King kicking a kettle; k-k-k
  • Lions licking lollipops; l-l-l
  • Monkeys munching; m-m-m
  • Nanna’s nearly ninety; n-n-n
  • Old orange octopus; o-o-o
  • Popcorn are popping; p-p-p
  • Queens are waiting quietly; q-q-q qu-qu-qu
  • Robots are racing; r-r-r
  • Sausages sizzling; s-s-s
  • Tigers are tiptoeing; t-t-t
  • Up umbrella; u-u-u
  • Violets in vases; v-v-v
  • Wibble wobble walrus; w-w-w
  • Oxen on the box; x-x-x
  • Yak is yawning; y-y-y
  • Zig zag zebras; z-z-z

You can find a PDF version of this list at www.tictacteach.com/reading-sounds.

Fine Motor

Fine motor pre-reading activities prepare children’s fine motor skills for the concept of reading; for example, turning the page. Turning one page at a time is a fundamental concept for interacting with books and is learned very quickly with opportunity and experience.

Start with books that have big, thick cardboard pages and then, as your child becomes more dexterous, you can use normal paper pages.

Incorporate visual assistance by pointing to words or pictures as you are reading.

For variety, use a tablet device to make up a story. Your child can use a stylus, which will help with pencil grip. This will cover many essential skills – finger control, eye/hand coordination and learning the concept of using a tablet device.

Fine motor activities that develop the requisite skills include:

  • play dough
  • threading
  • drawing
  • painting
  • cutting
  • pasting
  • crafts
  • puzzles
  • manipulative toys; for example, small Lego

Children soon learn to distinguish between their drawings and their writing, whether it is scribble or letter-like marks, as they experiment with writing.

Writing

Writing is a creative, as well as physical, activity.

To prepare children for writing I like to use the following activities:

Creating Books

One fun activity involves making your own books, allowing your child to decide on the content of their book. Once the book is written, your child can make up questions that they would like to pose to the audience. For example “What animal is in my book?”

Creating books is not limited to drawing; other creative art forms and photographs can be used as well.

Dramatic Areas

Dramatic areas are a fabulous way to engage children and develop a variety of skills. Let’s use the example of a restaurant. Children can be involved in writing the recipes, the menus and pretending to write down the orders. Cooking books and different styles of menus can be used as a guide to writing their own.

Conversation

As a parent we need to engage our child in conversations with other children and adults. You can encourage conversations with these activities below during playgroup or when your child is with their cousins or neighbors.

Some activities to encourage and facilitate conversations are:

Dramatic role play experiences:

For example using puppets made from socks, paper bags, stick puppets, hand or finger puppets. Children provide speech for the puppets. They can make up their own stories or play the part of their favourite character. When your child plays with another child or adult using puppets, they can have conversations and experiment with different voices.

Construction (for example, blocks, Lego, Duplo, construction kits):

You and your child can work together and talk about the design and plans for their construction.  Together you can draw the sequence of steps on paper, either at the beginning or end of the construction (Tip: Avoid interruptions during the creative phase.)

At the end of the activity, you can converse with your child by asking open-ended questions.

Cooking

Cooking is an engaging, non-threatening method to encourage reading comprehension, while at the same time teaching math fundamentals.

One strategy is to commence with a set recipe and read the recipe with your child. The recipe can have visual representations to aid understanding.

You can then gain an understanding of their comprehension by questions such as: “What ingredients do we need for this recipe?” At the same time they are given a measure of responsibility as they select the actual ingredients.

For those children that demonstrate developed comprehension skills, the concept of numbers can be introduced and gauged by their response to directions, for example: “Can you get three eggs please?”

This activity allows your child to see the written word and understand that there is a relationship with the cooking you are undertaking together.

In some ways, cooking can be easier to comprehend than a book. Simple procedures can be broken up into sections and most children’s cookbooks have illustrations, which makes them more accessible and engaging.

The cookbook will also typically have a photo of the finished product, so that your child can see what they are working towards.

The best part is that your child can enjoy the fruits of their labor! Use this relaxing and enjoyable time to pose further comprehension questions, such as: “What did the recipe tell us to do?”

It will be more challenging if you facilitate the conversation before you undertake the construction. Children need to be confident and competent in their thought processes to articulate the planning and design; for example, “What are we going to build?” or “How are we going to build the boat?”

Social play experiences:

Children can be engaged in conversations through games organized by adults as well as those they initiate themselves; for example, children might organize a tea party in the garden. This setting facilitates all kinds of dialogue.

Another example is conversations within the routines of the day. What do we need to set the table for dinner?

Routines

I like to use daily routines to enhance children’s comprehension skills.

I use photos with a description underneath to demonstrate the sequence in routines, so that the children comprehend the visual elements. A good example is the routine of washing their hands.

My favorite method, however, is using a visual schedule or diary of your day, displayed from left to right. This helps children comprehend what is happening now, and what is happening next throughout their day. This can be related to reading a book for comprehending and sequencing a chain of events.

Even within a meal time there are routines: what comes first, what comes next. For example, as a family, do you wait until everyone is seated before eating?

Comprehension Games and Activities

Games can be used to support comprehension, and thus reading.

Add games to your repertoire that promote not only comprehension but word structure, following directions, listening and extending vocabulary.

Recognition Games

These games enable children to look or listen – promoting recognition before memory. As a family or at playgroup, you can play:

  • Special Word: agree on a word or a familiar person’s name which everyone will listen for during a conversation. Every time the nominated word is heard, your child claps their hands.
  • Magazine image jigsaw puzzle: Cut out simple images from magazines and cut into several pieces. Your child can then put the image back together and tell you what the picture is.
  • Description game: Describe in detail an animal your child would be familiar with and see if they can tell you its name.
  • Musical statues: Children move while listening to the music. When it stops, they freeze as a statue.
  • Identifying rhymes: Teach your child nursery rhymes and have them identify the words that rhyme.

Visual Discrimination

  • Puzzles: Children focus on colors, shapes and the detail within the picture to complete the puzzle.
  • Scavenger hunt: Get your child to find objects around the home that have similar characteristics. For example; find objects that are soft, round, green, etc.
  •  Memory game: Show your child a picture for them to look at carefully. Remove the picture and ask them to tell you what they remember. You can then discuss anything that may have been missed.

Reading Mechanics

  •  Identifying left and right: use a watch or a ring to distinguish left and right hand.
  • Simon says: this is the perfect game to promote comprehension. It helps children become familiar with left and right as well as body parts. You can start by facing the same direction as your child and later face them.
  • Calendar: Marking off the days on a calendar gets children familiar with the direction of left-to-right and top-to-bottom.

Vocabulary Expansion

  •  Play dough: A fun and interactive activity, with lots of opportunities to facilitate discussion. For example: Let’s make a dog. How many legs does it need? Will our dog have a long tail or a short tail? Is it going to have spots on its belly or on its back?
  • Dramatization: Acting out or role playing songs, rhymes, stories or real life situations. For example: a shop, doctor’s surgery or “Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick. So she phoned for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick. The doctor came with his bag and his hat and he knocked on the door with a ratta-tat-tat.
  • He looked at the dolly and he shook his head…” Or “Five little ducks went out one day…”
  • Dressing up: this encourages imagination and language use in play.

Following Directions

  •  Songs: such as heads, shoulders, knees and toes.
  • Normal Routines of the day: Let’s push our chairs in.
  • Simon Says: Children follow very clear directions to be able to participate.

Word Structure

  • Syllable Clap: Clap out the beats of your child’s names as well as their friends or family, for example, Me-la-nie.
  • Rhyming words: For example, reading books by Dr Seuss as they have a lot of repetition.

Check out my 50 free preschool games, including detailed instructions and explanation of benefits.

Tablets and the Use of Technology

As new advances are made in computers and tablets, it’s becoming increasingly beneficial to embrace interactive technologies as an aid for reading comprehension.

I see the benefits of technology as two-fold:

  1. Aiding children’s reading comprehension.
  2. Encouraging competence with technology that will be part of everyday life for this generation.

The International Reading Association (2009) issued its position statement that, in part, read:

To become fully literate in today’s world, students must become proficient in the new literacies of 21st-century technologies. IRA believes that literacy educators have a responsibility to integrate information and communication technologies (ICTs) into the curriculum, to prepare students for the futures they deserve.

Digital, interactive electronic books on tablets and other mobile devices can provide an engaging, self-paced and self-correcting way for children to sharpen their reading comprehension skills.

The use of technology for reading comprehension can require different instructions and elicit diverse responses from children. As an alternate learning and teaching style, it can be potentially very engaging for children who are struggling readers.

One of the most helpful features of using interactive digital devices is the ability to find out the definition and pronunciation of any word on the screen by simply touching it.

These devices also provide a method for physical interaction as children manipulate and transform texts.

Affordable reading activities to do at home

Below are some simple, affordable and fun activities that you can do with your child (or as a family) to encourage reading comprehension. Some are a summary of suggestions outlined in previous chapters and some are new.

  • Put your child’s drawing on the fridge to display. Ask them to describe their drawing. If you like, you can write the description on the drawing.
  • Make a daily weather picture chart. Cut out pictures of people from clothes catalogs. Each day talk about what the weather will be like and have your child choose a suitable picture to go on the weather chart.
  • Visit your local library as often as possible; attend story time sessions.
  • Make a food scrapbook using pictures from catalogs. Have your child draw a heart shape near all the foods they have tried and liked and a question mark near the foods they haven’t tried yet.
  • Make a shopping list together and ask your child to check whether specific items are nearly empty. When shopping ask questions like: “which milk do we usually have?”
  • Play ‘I Spy’ with rhyme, for example: “I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with book”.
  • While out and about, look for license plates that have the same letters as in your child’s name.
  • Make a photo album or scrapbook with your child and have them tell you what to write about for each photo or picture.
  • Find some chalk and together decorate a paved path outside.
  • Let your child explore drawing with a stick (or their finger) in different mediums; for example, mud, sand or a plate of sugar.
  • Give your child rich and varied experiences; for example, visit the zoo, museums and funfairs.
  • Find books about your child’s hobby or interests to read together.
  • Allow your child to select books as gifts for friends.
  • Cook or make things that involve reading instructions.
  • Encourage your child to read words displayed around them, e.g. menus, signs, food packets, TV guides.
  • Write messages to your child – put them on the fridge or in their lunch box. Encourage your child to write notes or draw pictures for you in return.
  • Allow your child to write the shopping list. When shopping, ask your child to read it to you.
  • Have your child write and read letters or emails (ask their grandparents to help out!)
  • Use reading as a tool for communication in the house; for example, placing notes to each other on the fridge.
  • Read the letters you receive to your child.
  • Read incidental materials; for example, labels, cards, recipes, instructions booklets or TV captions.
  • Give books as a reward for a job well done or as a gift.

Conclusion

Reading is very possibly the most critical skill that we can teach pre-schoolers – and the younger we introduce them to reading, the better their achievement throughout school and into later life.

Building strong reading comprehension skills during your child’s preschool years will set a foundation for success in future years. But of course we understand that not all children learn the same way.