How to help your Pre-Schooler to Read
As parents, we want to give our children the best start in life. One of the things we can do to help them succeed in school is to equip them with superior literacy skills when they are at the most critical learning stage of their lives – between 3 to 5 years of age.
At 3 years of age, your child is starting to recognise letters and numbers. They can point to alphabets on the street, in-store signs or in printed materials like books, menus, and brochures. This is the age that children learn to draw intentionally, to recite the alphabets and to count.
At pre-school age, your child is eager to learn and can absorb a great deal of new knowledge. This is the best time to teach your child how to read.
Learning abilities of pre-schoolers
Pre-schoolers can recognise the names of their favourite books. They may not be able to read the titles but if you ask them to pick out a book they like, they will be able to do so. At this age, your child can also hold a book properly, turn the pages correctly and can recognise familiar words and sounds. They can recall familiar phrases and will mimic your reading when you read to them. This is also the age when your child will start experimenting with drawing and writing.
Some pre-schoolers can also write alphabets and numbers. They may be able to recognise the letters that start certain words (for example, the letter ‘A’ for apple’) and can make up rhymes and silly phrases.
More advanced pre-schoolers may also be able to predict what happened next in a story and some can even make up their own stories.
How to teach your pre-schooler to read
This is a critical learning stage for your child. Here are some strategies you can adopt to help your pre-schooler read.
Introduction to text
Immersing your pre-schooler in a text-rich environment is the best way to start teaching literacy. Having books around the house is a great start. Aim to go beyond just an awareness of books to a genuine love of reading. You can do this by regularly reading to them and by creating opportunities for them to accept that text is a big component of their daily lives.
Ordinary activities can be turned into learning experiences if you know how to create the right learning opportunities. For example, point out the alphabets in their cereal box to them when you are preparing breakfast in the morning. Get them to look for letters they recognise in a menu when you take them out for a meal. Or play ‘I spy with my naked eye’ alphabet and letter games with them when you take them out. The more learning opportunities you create for your pre-schooler, the faster he or she will be able to recognise letters and words.
Developmental milestones for 3-5-year old’s
As your child starts to grow, their skills will improve. We have listed the developmental milestones for pre-schoolers below to help you gauge your child’s growth progress. Every child learns differently. So, avoid making comparisons with other children. Also, some children can easily forget a skill they learned earlier when they acquire a new set of skills. If your child has forgotten something, they learned earlier, reinforce the learning again and give them time to readjust.
If you have any concerns about your child’s progress, you must speak to your doctor as early intervention is usually the best way to address developmental problems in young children.
Gross motor skills (Large muscles like the trunk, legs, arms, and neck)
● Pedal a tricycle
● Climb stairs
● Kick a ball
● Catch a ball
● Balance on one foot
● Balance and walk on a beam
Basic life skills
● Hold a spoon and fork to feed self
● Put on and remove shoes (without ties)
● Dress and undress without help
● Manipulate buttons and straps
● Pour liquid into a container
● Climb in and out of a car, bathtub, or onto the bed without help
● Unscrew bottle cap
Fine motor skills (Small muscles like hands and fingers)
● Copy and trace shapes
● Draw a face
● Use a pair of scissors to cut along a line
● Hold and draw with a piece of chalk
● Stack cubes
● Start writing
Cognitive and speech skills
● Complete 3-10-piece interlocking puzzle
● Count 1 to 10
● Sort shapes and colours
● Match pictures
● Basic safety awareness – sharp objects, stairs and so forth
● Understand the concept of two
● Understand pronouns and prepositions
● Recognise sounds
● Recite the alphabets
Suggested reading activities for 3 to 5-year old
Here are seven playful activities to teach your 3 to 5-year old to read:
- Play letter games
Pre-schoolers love copying out words. Write your child’s name on a piece of paper and have him or her copy it with alphabet stamps, stickers, magnets, or an alphabet stencil. Your child may write it backwards, spell randomly or hold the marker pen awkwardly but that’s okay. The idea is to get them familiar with the alphabet. A blackboard is a great way to encourage your pre-schooler to practise the alphabets without having to use too many pieces of paper. Use colourful chalks and draw pretty pictures on the board to illustrate letters and words.
- Play an alphabet guessing game
A letter-sound connection is one of the earliest steps to reading. Play a guessing game with your child’s favourite words. Ask your child to name something beginning with ‘A’. Playing the alphabet guessing game improves your child’s vocabulary, trains memory and phonetics.
- Turn reading into storytelling and play-acting
Take your reading activities up a notch by combining storytelling with reading. Read a favourite storybook to your pre-schooler and encourage him or her to complete the story. Dialogic reading is a great way to develop imagination and creativity, public speaking, and performance skills.
- Get busy on writing craft
Take advantage of your child’s curiosity in books by writing a book together. Staple a few pieces of paper together. Start a story that your child can relate to. For example, a mealtime adventure, a day at playschool or a day in the park. Use crayons, colourful markers, and stickers to illustrate the story. You can adjust this activity and make greeting cards and little cute messages for their grandparents, favourite teacher, or a friend they like playing with.
- Spot the letter
Take reading activities outdoor by playing spot the letter games with your pre-schooler. Point out signs to your child and get him or her to spot alphabets or numbers they recognise.
- Teach poems and rhymes
Poems and rhymes are a great way to teach your pre-schooler to read. Read a poem or rhyme to your kid. Get your child to act out favourite phrases or turn the reading session into a song and dance activity.
- Cultivate a love for books
Find opportunities to take your pre-schooler to a public library or a bookshop. Encourage them to choose books they want to read in the library. Join a kids’ reading club. The more you expose them to books, the more they will love it.
Top Kids Reading and Writing Classes for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers are now open for enrolment. Our fun and immersive classes are designed to help young children become strong, confident readers. Classes are available for children aged 2 years to 5 years old.