Many parents look forward to announcing that their child can read, but the truth is children are reading long before they can interpret the pages of a book. As with most things in life, reading requires the proper building blocks before it can begin.
Reading begins with language and how it relates to your child’s world. Creating a language-rich environment will help your child’s vocabulary grow. Language develops with every interaction you have with your child — infants begin by reading their parents’ facial expressions while older children develop their vocabulary by listening and eventually repeating what their parents say. Verbalize your child’s world and he or she will begin to repeat sounds and syllables — be sure to pause, speak and alter conversation style.
A print-rich environment may also help prepare your child for reading by making the connection between your child’s world and the symbols we use to communicate, so make your home an active learning environment. Start by labeling household items with pictures and words so your child will learn to associate everyday items with their symbols. Lead by example and let your child see you read often. Teach your child to respect books — while pages will rip and bindings will break, your child will learn to value books and their content if you set a high expectation for their care.
Remember, it takes many interactions with the alphabet and phonemic awareness for reading skills to develop. While it may be difficult to remain patient, be assured that reading will happen when your child is ready.