Lay the Groundwork for Kindergarten Reading Success (page 2)

Lay the Groundwork for Kindergarten Reading Success

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Updated on Aug 6, 2013

One-on-One Conversations

You talk to your child all day long, but setting aside a set amount of time each day to talk in a special way can have a big impact on reading readiness. According to Daniel, “Young children need ‘Ear Time:’ a time when an adult the child cares about is listening intently to them and responding with questions.” Everybody is busy, and often when we talk with our kids, we're only half listening.

To get maximum reading benefit, set a kitchen timer at a specific time each day and tell your child that until it rings, you're going to focus solely on him. If the phone rings, ignore it. Let the laundry sit until later. Start a conversation, listen to what your child says, and ask questions. Ear Time not only builds self-esteem, it helps prepare children's brains for maximum intake, Daniel says. One-on-one conversations with your child teach them how to hold a back-and-forth dialogue, and build their vocabulary at the same time. And studies show that one of the key predictors of reading success in young children is their vocabulary.

Want to help your child stretch his word bank? Quit dumbing down what you say for his benefit. “It’s important for parents to use grown-up vocabulary when talking to their kids," Daniel says. "They’ll be able to understand you by reading your non-verbal cues, listening to your expression and tone, and by the context of the situation. This will build your child’s vocabulary, and help him understand the nuances of language.”

For example, if your child is diving into a big slice of chocolate cake, instead of saying, “Mmm, yummy,” try rubbing your tummy and saying, “That cake looks delectable!” The excitement in your eyes and your other non-verbal cues will ensure that your child understands you. Sprinkling “Ear Time” in with your more casual conversations can prove to be a huge factor in your child’s reading success.



Reading and writing go together like peanut butter and jelly. But for kindergarten kids, working on "writing" often means working on art. “Drawing is writing in its earliest form," Daniel says. "If you ask a child what his paper ‘says,’ he’ll tell you all about it." Children express their ideas through drawings long before they're able to express their ideas through words.  Even if the only "words" kids can write are scribbles and lines, it's important to remember the goal: for a child to know that they can express themselves on paper. As they develop, Daniel says, children will begin to try their hand at letters and words. “When a child begins inventive writing, there’s no need to correct it. It’s important for the child to express himself, and have adults ‘ooh and ah’ over it,” she says.

To help your child make the connection that writing and drawing are a form of expression and communication, ask your child to narrate what they’ve drawn. When she tells you what her picture is about, write what she tells you on the page, so she'll begin to understand that words have meaning. "Knowing that her words can be put onto paper is a thrilling thing for a child,”  Daniel says. Looking for other ways to incorporate writing into your child's day? Involve her in creating a grocery or packing list. Ask her what's missing and write down what she says. This will help her realize the utility in writing.

The recipe for preparing your child for reading success is quite simple: read every book on the shelf, chat until you’ve run out of things to say, and write on any blank writing surface you can find! Keep in mind that whatever stage your child is at in learning to read, your own enthusiasm is key. Support him in his journey with gusto.

And as the world’s young reader’s guru, Dr. Seuss, once said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” In this case, the answer is simple: Enjoy reading, writing, and talking with your child and soon, there will be another independent reader in the house!

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