Children do not have to have mastered their ABC’s to begin getting them ready to read. You can help the children in your care start developing the skills they need to be ready to read long before they reach kindergarten. Here are some tips which you can use to help children progress.

• Take the children on a field trip. Sign up for a story time at your public library or local bookstore. Many of these places offer skilled storytellers who bring books to life using puppets, songs, and crafts. (You can also pick up a few tips for your read aloud sessions with the children).

• Point out words everywhere. Young children are starting to connect words with pictures and concepts- a process that helps them understand everyday happenings. Make the most of this stage by reading the names of products on labels, explaining what the words on traffic signs mean, and reading recipes together when you make a meal.

• Get into it. Use different voices for different characters when reading a story aloud. Young children pay closer attention to an adult using varying tones while reading.

• Establish a reading schedule. Children thrive on consistency and predictability, which is why a daily story ritual is so popular.

• Follow the children’s lead. Let children choose the books they want you to read. You build a sense of independence and confidence.

• Make the story interactive. You read one page and ask the children to describe what is happening on the following page.

• Repeat, repeat, repeat. Children are developing sharper ears for language. Yes, sometimes it can be boring to read the same story over and over but it’s through repetition that children will eventually memorize their favorite parts. This is an encouraging sign of increasing reading readiness.

• Have books available in an easily assessable place for the children to look at.

Often you will see children pick up a book and ‘read’ it by simply explaining the pictures. It’s important to understand that children must be interested in reading before they will put forth the effort to learn how to do it. Therefore, having a variety of books available will serve as a motivation to read.

When you read to the children start at the beginning and demonstrate how you turn each page in succession. You may also occasionally point to the words on the page. Books, songs and activities that have rhyming words often help the children differentiate sounds.

Instilling the love for books and reading is so important for teaching the child skill they will need as they grow and develop.