Bring on Book Week

Charlotte Thompson, 05 Aug 2022

August means Book Week, and books are a big deal here at Young Academics. Our children love spending time in the reading corner or listening to our educators read a story, so there will be plenty of literary activities going on in our centres to celebrate one of our favourite weeks of the year – and of course a Book Parade to top it off!

But books should ideally also be a big deal at home, since the more children are exposed to books, stories, and ‘reading’, the better their literacy and pre-reading skills will be developed, when it’s time to transition to ‘big school’.

For parents though, it can be tricky to know whether just reading at bedtime (or morning, lunch, or afternoon-time) stories is enough to prepare your child for kindergarten, or whether you should be explicitly ‘teaching’ them how to read before they start. 

We asked our professional educators and Early Childhood Teachers exactly what you can do to help at home, and here are our top picks.

Read, read, and read some more – just reading together is the perfect preparation for kindergarten. While the parent may be doing the reading, having your child enjoy books, look at the pictures, point out images which match the words and anticipate what might happen on the next page, is the best thing you can encourage our child to do when it comes to early literacy learning. 

Join your local library – libraries are fantastic resources to build a lifelong love of reading. From designated story time sessions, offered in many libraries, to just spending time visiting the library together to browse and borrow books, or chill and read together on a beanbag, this is an ideal cost-free way to keep up a constant flow of new stories to explore together. 

Sing a song – that’s right! Singing nursery rhymes or favourite songs is another fun way to get children to engage with language, so warm up those vocal cords and belt out a tune together.

Play games – games such as ‘I Spy’ are great pre-reading activities, which can be adapted to use words starting with certain sounds or colours rather than letters depending on your child’s stage of recognition of letters. For example, instead of saying ‘I Spy with my little eye something starting with M’, try ‘I Spy with my little eye something starting with mmm’, or ‘I Spy something green’.

Make time for rhyme – rhyming is a fun way for children to learn new literacy skills, and a great tool to help them remember words, so why not make up rhymes during chores at home or at the supermarket, such as ‘good golly, look how much we put in the trolley’, or ‘let’s buy some meat to heat’. Popular rhyming stories to try (and learn to recite), include Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, Rumble in the Jungle or The Gruffalo. 

Don’t stop talking – Talking is Teaching.  In a world where technology is an increasing presence in our daily lives, take time to talk to your child whilst running errands on a walk to the park, on the way home from Young Academics, or even during dinner – you can describe what you are doing in context and why, and ask questions specific to the activity, such as how does dinner taste? What colours are on the plate? 

To help learn to read and write – draw! Drawing is such an important activity to help develop your child’s fine motor skills, which pave the way for writing, as well as making the connection between written words and pictures – just like in a book. 

Start learning letters – from learning to sing the Alphabet Song to teaching your child to write their name, letter recognition is a terrific step towards learning to read. Start by providing the letters of their name to trace, make letters out of play dough or buy puzzles, blocks or fridge magnets featuring the letters of the alphabet to build recognition.

The bottom line? Parents are not trained teachers, and there should be zero pressure for parents to try to explicitly teach their child to read before they start kindergarten, so just talk, sing, draw, rhyme and read together and you’ll be setting your child up for success. 

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