My title undoubtedly makes some people think of an infant reading program where young babies will miraculously be transformed into readers. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Chances are, you’re encouraging early reading skills every day in your home with your young child. Early literacy refers to preparing children for reading through activities that draw attention to reading and writing opportunities. It shows them the purpose reading and writing plays in our lives. These activities don’t have to be Pinteresty and contrived. Many of them take no prep or materials.
Charlotte Mason moms know that her recommendation was to hold off on formal lessons until a child turns 6. But there is so much we can do to help our children develop a firm foundation of literacy until then. The key determining factor between formal lessons and teaching your child pre-literacy skills informally is that the latter should be play-based.
Charlotte Mason describes the process of young children learning the alphabet:
The Alphabet.––As for his letters, the child usually teaches himself. He has his box of ivory letters and picks out p for pudding, b for blackbird, h for horse, big and little, and knows them both. But the learning of the alphabet should be made a means of cultivating the child’s observation: he should be made to see what he looks at. Make big B in the air, and let him name it; then let him make round O, and crooked S, and T for Tommy, and you name the letters as the little finger forms them with unsteady strokes in the air. To make the small letters thus from memory is a work of more art, and requires more careful observation on the child’s part. A tray of sand is useful at this stage. The child draws his finger boldly through the sand, and then puts a back to his D; and behold, his first essay in making a straight line and a curve. But the devices for making the learning of the ‘A B C‘ interesting are endless. There is no occasion to hurry the child: let him learn one form at a time, and know it so well that he can pick out the d’s, say, big and little, in a page of large print. Let him say d for duck, dog, doll, thus: d-uck, d-og, prolonging the sound of the initial consonant, and at last sounding d alone, not dee, but d‘, the mere sound of the consonant separated as far as possible from the following vowel.
Let the child alone, and he will learn the alphabet for himself: but few mothers can resist the pleasure of teaching it; and there is no reason why they should, for this kind of learning is no more than play to the child, and if the alphabet be taught to the little student, his appreciation of both form and sound will be cultivated. When should he begin? Whenever his box of letters begins to interest him. The baby of two will often be able to name half a dozen letters; and there is nothing against it so long as the finding and naming of letters is a game to him. But he must not be urged, required to show off, teased to find letters when his heart is set on other play.” Home Education, pages 201-202.
- Writing in the air
- Using a sand tray to write letters
But the possibilities are endless!
- Read alphabet books
- Complete alphabet puzzles
- Paint or draw letters
- Make letters out of Play Doh
- Use Wiki-Stix to form letters
- Put a set of pretty magnetic alphabet letters on the refrigerator
This book is quickly becoming one of our favorites! Today we read about a little girl who wanted to visit the stars, so she traveled far and endured cold and fatigue to get there. Such inspirational ideas about perseverance! . . . #preschool #preschoolathome #charlottemasonpreschool #charlottemason #charlottemasonliving #sahm #mythreeyearold #read #bookofvirtues #lovemykids
Vocabulary development is crucial for your child’s future learning skills. He or she will need a broad vocabulary in order to read books in the future. Introducing them to many different experiences that strengthen their vocabulary now will help them
- Read fiction and nonfiction books (read more about living books here)
- Don’t be afraid to read books that are higher than their vocabulary level
- Role play real-life activities, like going to a restaurant or store
- Ask your child to describe what they see when they’re playing outside– this also helps with the habit of observation!
- Use synonyms for everyday words- make it a game!
- Search for items in a picture
- Play a board game
- Tell your child stories in the car while you’re driving, or have your child tell you a story
- Visit somewhere new! Don’t get stuck in a rut- let your child have new experiences that will help them expand their vocabulary
- Let your child come up with and articulate a new craft
The Purpose of Reading in Our Lives
By drawing attention to real-life ways that people use reading skills on a daily basis, your child will learn the purpose of the mysterious code they see everywhere.
- Visit the library
- Post pictures with words in their play space
- Read signs while driving, shopping, etc.
- Make a grocery list with pictures for your child to use at the store
- Cook together by following a recipe
- Encourage scribble “writing”
- Make a card for someone
Sounds Make Up Language
Experimenting with sounds of words helps your child begin to see the correlation between words, sounds, and letters.
- Sing a song
- Read nursery rhymes, emphasizing the rhyming words
- Play rhyming games, like The Name Game (and use the Name Game Generator if you get stuck. Who thinks of this stuff?!)
- Emphasize the first sound of a word (p-p-p-play)
- Play games using rhyming, segmenting, and blending
The activities that you use will depend on your child’s age and development. Since these are intended to be play-based, following your child’s lead is a must!