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01/10/2017 09:00PM ● By John Gales

Fun Ways to Help Your Child Become A Strong Reader: Part 1

We know the importance of reading aloud to children from the time they are born, but there are many other fun and easy ways to help them develop literacy skills. Learn how to utilize activities throughout your day to foster your child’s language and early literacy skills. Check out some examples below:

1.       Music, Nursery Rhymes, and Singing

Music, nursery rhymes, and singing expose your child to a variety of skills related to literacy development, including improved phonological awareness (playing with words and sounds in our language) through:

·         Rhyme Awareness – Let your child complete the rhyme in songs and nursery rhymes. For example, sing songs like Down by the Bay or A Hunting We Will Go, where you can start verses such as, “A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go, I’ll find a goat, and give him a…” and let your child complete the rhyme. Singing in the car is a great distraction if you are stuck in traffic or on long drives.

·         Syllable Awareness – Emphasize syllable segmentation by singing songs. For example, use verses such as, “twin-kle, twin-kle, lit-tle, star.”

·         Phonemic (Sound) Awareness – Play with sounds in words. For example, in the song Apples and Bananas, you and your child can have fun changing the vowel sounds from “I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas” to “I like to ate, ate, ate ay-ples and ba-nay-nays.”

·         Clarity of the Alphabet - When you sing the traditional ABC Song do you ever notice how “l,m,n,o,p” becomes muddled into "elemenopee?" Try singing the alphabet to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb or London Bridge is Falling Down and each letter sound will be sung clearer.

Enjoying all types of music is a great way to listen for the different sounds of instruments and singers, and to recognize different bars of music. Becoming adept at auditory discrimination, or differentiating sounds, is an important precursor to language and literacy when similar words have different meanings (bat/pat). Other forms of music, such as clapping or tapping are also helpful because infants and children are intrinsically interested in the rhythmic properties of language. Furthermore, pairing rhymes with hand motions, like in the Itsy Bitsy Spider, requires coordinating gross motor, fine motor, and oral language skills simultaneously.

2.       Pointing Out Print

Point out words and letters in your home, school, car, and stores to improve your child’s print awareness. Bring to their attention the names and letter on boxes and cans in the store, road signs, directional signs in large public spaces, and more. For example, if your child's name starts with "B," point out other words that start with the same letter and sound. Often, young children first learn the letters in their name and their family members’ names. Pair the sound with the letter-name. "That's right! “bread” starts with [sound] /b/ and letter “b” just like Ben!" This will also help improve their phonemic awareness (understanding that words are made up of individual sounds).

To learn about additional ways you can help your little one develop literacy skills, check out Part 2 of this blog at the Stern Center for Language and Learning’s website:
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