Summer is a great time to get any young child involved in your local library's activities. Go to story time. Enjoy the library activities for the tiny tots. Make a reading log, and celebrate every book name that you list on there. Count the books that you have placed on your reading log. Practice pre-reading skills to make the transition to reading easier for your child.
For the little ones, birth to age six, my local library recommends the "6 by 6 Skills." This is an excellent program to help children begin to learn to read. These are skills that children need to learn before they are able to tackle reading. Hopefully, the children learn them by the time that they are six-years-old. These skills can be a large part of a summer reading program for a small child. Here is a review of the skills that this program finds to be important in forming proficient readers.
*Have fun-Go to the library and have fun. Check out books, let children choose books, do library activities, look at books and have youngsters tell the stories to go with picture books that don't have text. Take books wherever you go. Kids do what they enjoy. If you make reading an interesting and fun time, they will read.
*Look for letters everywhere-Help kids develop letter knowledge where they understand that letters are different from each other and can form words. All letters represent sounds. Letters, both lowercase and uppercase, have their own names and shapes. Play games with letters. Have a letter of the day and try to find it wherever you go. Practice making letters with shaving cream, pudding, finger paint, flour, sand, modeling dough, or clay. Take small pieces of uncooked pasta and arrange them into letter shapes. Make a letter collage using letters cut from magazines. Parents and older children can help by cutting out pictures that begin with the letter sounds that are in the collage. Match the letter to the picture by drawing lines or pasting the letter on top of the picture.
*Notice print-When kids see that print is everywhere that we go, they get the idea that reading is important. Using your shopping list, match the words on the list with the products in the store. Find words everywhere. Have kids point to words and you tell them the word. If the child knows some words, like a store or restaurant name, you point to that and have the child tell you the word. Point out print wherever you see it. Books, magazines, food items' packaging, museum placards, videos, billboards, and road signs all have words! The list of places where you can find words goes on and on.
*Tell stories-Telling stories acquaints the child with the idea of sequencing. Stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. You can have a child tell about a picture in a book. There is also first, next, and last. Plan your day and describe it in those terms. "First, we will… Next, we can… The last thing that we will do is…" As you read words, let your finger travel from the left side of the page to the right. That shows children how text is read. Complete hands-on activities related to sequences. String beads, sort items by size, shape, or color, and practice counting. You can also practice position concepts. Discuss in front and in back. Up above and down below are also important.
*Rhyme time-Phonological awareness is recognizing that words are made of sounds. Rhyming and bringing attention to the beginning sounds in words helps to develop this skill. Give a word like cake. Explain that a rhyming word sounds like cake. Ask which of the words sounds most like cake-pond, lake, or sea? Find pictures, like a boat. Ask which animal rhymes with boat-cow, pig, or goat? Choose a sound, and make a collage of all of the pictures that you can find that start with that sound. The hard C sound might be cat, car, kite, candle, or kid. The beginning letter doesn't matter; it is the sound that you are looking at.
*Talk, talk, talk-Fill your child's world with words! Even if the word is above their pay grade, use it anyway, then tell them what it means. Show youngsters a dictionary and all of the words that it contains. Explore the dictionary together. There are children's dictionaries. Children with a large vocabulary have a strong advantage when it comes to learning to read. When you enrich a child's vocabulary, you expand her world view. Have your child tell you the names of items in your house. Label them. A file card with painter's masking tape or a post-it work well for the labels.
This short review of the information presented in the "6 by 6 Skills" shows how parents can encourage reading, even in very young children. These skills could be an excellent part of a comprehensive summer reading program for children ages birth to 6-years-old. Below this article, I have included some resources, including links to more activities to support this program. If you want more ideas, visit the websites of some library systems that are in your area. What programs do they have? Enjoy your summer reading and your library visits.
Here are more activities and explanatory videos to make your tiny tot's reading program exciting and informative.
Johnson County, Kansas Library-Birth to Six
This Sesame Street website has a number of games and art activities that could be used to support the 6 by 6 Skills.
Sesame Street Games and Art
These sturdy board books are perfect for babies and toddlers. The stories are abridged versions of the familiar Dr. Seuss tales for early readers.
Dr. Seuss Bright & Early Board Books(TM)
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