Just as a healthy breakfast provides the right start for the day, early literacy experiences provide children with the right start for entering kindergarten.
Start and stay ahead with pre-literacy skills
According to research conducted by Keith Stanovich and others, children who enter kindergarten with extensive pre-literacy experience (meaning their parents read to them and had many encouraging verbal interactions with them), enter school with a significant advantage over kids with little pre-literacy experience. Not only do they start ahead, they remain ahead and the gap does not close up, in fact it gets bigger throughout the 12 years of basic education. Stanovich called that gap the "Matthew Effect" and his findings were supported by other researchers.
It's easy for parents to fall into the habit of switching on the television instead of spending time reading or talking to their child about his day. To combat that urge, follow these easy tips to ensure that your child starts school prepared to succeed.
7 tips for nurturing early literacy experience
- Talk to your children from day one. When you're doing the laundry, talk about the colors of the clothes. When you’re preparing dinner, talk about the ingredients and the different steps. Use every opportunity to introduce your child to new vocabulary, no matter how simple. You'll be setting your child on the path to becoming a lifelong learner.
- Surround your child with reading matter. Make your child aware that words are everywhere—on cereal boxes, milk cartons, signs, even on toys! Help him or her notice that words are made of individual letters, and that letters have names and sounds. Join the local library to add variety to the books you have at home.
- Read to your child every day. No matter how busy you are, set aside 10 minutes a day!
- Praise your child frequently. Make him or her feel encouraged to explore, learn and experiment.
- Take regular trips to the library. Even if you go just once a month, this is an outing that will benefit the whole family.
- Write the names of common objects on index cards. Tape labels on the objects (such as desk, chair, door, etc.) in your child's room. This will help him or her understand that those squiggles on the page, when arranged in certain combinations, stand for something. Don't forget the most important word of all: your child's name!
- Encourage literacy in other children, too. Share the gift of literacy with others by donating used books, or inviting children with you on visits to the library.