Many parents believe that teaching toddlers and young children to read is a job for teachers, not parents. While this might be commonplace, there is no doubt that children who are facilitated and encouraged to read at a younger age will progress more easily when it comes to formal lessons. This is a concept commonly known as reading readiness – the idea that you can prepare your toddler for their reading and comprehension development.
So how can you do this? First and foremost, you can do this by introducing your toddler to books. There are plenty of tactile, touch friendly toddler books with vivid colors and images that will grab your child’s attention. As they start to learn words, you can progress to more regular story books. Children’s minds are like sponges, and regularly reading them stories is a fantastic way to build the association with books and entertainment in their minds.
As your toddler starts to use their voice with greater regularity, you may notice that they will start to request certain books, or may wish to read along with you. This is a fantastic way of introducing them to the concept of letters and written words. Many parents also believe that this is the ideal time to introduce your toddler to a letters based toy. This could be as simple as an alphabet poster, or it could be an electronic interactive toy with pressable letters. You toddler won’t be spelling out complicated words just yet, but they will absorb the basics of letters, making the subsequent jump to reading much easier.
Word and picture cards can also work a treat. These are simple cards with pictures and the word written below it, like apple or car. Children can quickly associate the image with the word in their head, and without realizing it they will start making connections between the sounds and the letters in front of them. If your toddler is progressing very quickly, you might also consider buying a label maker, or making your own labels. Ask your child to put the label on the correct item in your home.
You don’t have to spend a small fortune on toys to prepare your toddler for reading. The basic approaches are often the best, and toys like alphabet posters, picture cards and label games can all be homemade while achieving the same result. It might seem easier to leave your toddler with their other toys and wait for their teachers to teach them how to read, but by considering their reading readiness, you can set them up for an incredibly rewarding and happier school experience. Good luck!