Teaching Your Child to Read from Age 3–5
The age when reading becomes crucial to development
If you have been raising your child in a literate environment and fostering a love of reading from an early age, by the age of three, you could start teaching your three-year-old preschooler to read. What's more, your child will be able to do so successfully. If you are teaching your child to read through a method based on phonics, she should be able to learn to spell and write at the same time. This is often a highly rewarding period for parents.
There are a number of excellent books to guide you through the process such as Sidney Ledson's Teach Your Child to Read in Just Ten Minutes a Day or Siegfried Engleman's Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons . There are also full instructional kits such as Hooked on Phonics, which provide parents with a step-by-step approach to teaching reading.
By the time your child is four, she will have an extensive vocabulary and be able to speak in sentences of about 5 – 8 words. She will have become a communicative being! If you have begun teaching her to read, she will be able to read independently from simple phonetic readers. She will be accustomed to visiting the library and know where the children's section is located. She may have a small collection of her own favourite books at home. By the time your child joins junior or senior kindergarten, she may have read over a hundred small books. She may also have written, illustrated, and decorated her own little books.
It is at this stage that differences between your child and other children start becoming apparent, inside and outside the school environment. Teachers may have to plan special enrichment activities to meet your child's educational needs, while other children are being taught the basics of reading instruction. This is a positive indication that your child's early reading abilities are in fact the key to academic progress. Your child will already be ahead of her peers, from an academic point of view.
Best Books for 3-5 year olds
Even if the child is learning to read on her own, you should continue to read to her. At this age, your child will benefit from books that display the rich diversity of the world. Books about children of other nationalities, colors, cultures, races, sizes, and families will expand his view of the world. At the same time, books that relate to places and objects from her everyday reality like dolls, beds, homes, cars, trucks, and fire engines are also enjoyed. Books that talk about people she knows such as a friend, a baby sister, or a grandmother will help her develop closeness, understanding, and empathy for others. Books that describe imaginary creatures and far-away places can also inspire her imagination.
When reading a book to your child, you can do more than just read the story. Use rich vocabulary to describe the pictures. Ask your child questions about what she thinks will happen on the next page. These techniques will improve her storytelling skills. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Show your child how to respect a book by turning the pages gently and carefully. Ask her to place the book back carefully in its place, instead of leaving it on the bed or on the floor.
Using Everyday Resources
Other ways to support the reading process is through educational toys and games. These can be as simple as handmade index cards and self-drawn posters or as expensive as computer programs and video games designed for young children. Montessori schools employ a number of excellent methods to strengthen a child's growing literacy. A child can learn to write letters in a tray filled with sand, or rice or pudding. Your child could make letters out of dyed mashed potato and eat her words! You could buy french fries in the shape of letters and spell out your child's name. You could buy a child's computer to introduce her to the keyboard. You could let her draw on your sidewalk in chalk. You could cover a wall with white board so your child can scribble, draw, and practice writing. This could even be the place where you leave her a daily message such as "I love you" or "Good night". Don't be surprised if one day your child writes the same words for you!