Parents today often approach us with questions about reading. The most common question we get is, “Where do we start? I don’t know how to teach A B C to my child, what if I do it wrong?”. Some other parents have asked us “ My child simply isn’t interested in sitting down and reading, what should I do?” or “It becomes very boring for us to keep repeating the same things, what can we do?”.
The basic problem with starting to teach a child to read is that for any 1 year old, alphabets are abstract things – they don’t really mean anything. This means that while your child may be able to recognize the letter ‘A’, they don’t really understand what ‘A’ means in the real world! Is the letter ‘A’ a part of their name? Or, A is for apple, but how? These are the realities of trying to teach your child to read by starting with the alphabet.
At Mindseed, we have found ways in which you can start preparing your child for reading, through the concept of Emergent Literacy. Emergent Literacy is a technique through which your child starts getting ready to read – naturally. Emergent Literacy basically is a form of ‘pre-reading’, a means by which children first start to understand and recognize that writing or printed words actually have meaning, they’re not just a nice form of drawing or random squiggles and shapes!
What’s more, through these activities, children also get to have a lot of fun, making the experience rewarding, and therefore interesting for the child.
So here are our 7 Mindseed ways of getting started:
- Object Tagging: Place simple tags on objects around your house. When you speak to your child point to the tags and say the word clearly. This way, your child will know what words like ‘Table’, ‘Chair’, ‘Door’ and ‘Mirror’ look like and means, all without knowing the alphabet!
Name Tags: Place tags with your child’s name on simple things like school bags, books, water bottles, etc. Your child will quickly start to recognize his/her name. Once your child reads his/her name you can start labeling objects with others’ names too. For example, place name tags for each person at the dining table and see your child recognizing each person’s name!
- Books: Get your children familiar with the actual activity of reading. Help your child to turn the pages of a book and place your finger under the words as you read them so they know which direction to read in. Many children even pretend to read books or newspapers by themselves. Encourage this activity and help them along.
- Newspapers: While you read your newspaper, read aloud, and place your finger below the words. Your child will start to understand how to read from left to right. They will also start understanding that words mean different things, and will start to look forward to being able to read by themselves.
- Packaging: Most children are curious. They would like to know what is inside a box of soap, or toothpaste. Instead of just telling them, you could point to the different letters and help them read what is inside! Show the object inside as well. In this case, children are rewarded with the answer to their question – what’s inside the box? – and start getting interested in learning to read.
- Shopping Lists: The next time you make a shopping list, involve your child. Point to different items on the list and show them the boxes or items. This helps them understand the concept of a written word for an item.
- Logos: Children recognize logos, colours, and shapes easily. Does your child spot a yellow M and exclaim McDonald’s on the highway? Congratulations! Your child has understood that symbols and words have meaning associated with them. Similarly, while driving on the road, point to familiar logos, and ask your child what that logo is associated with.
Remember, make the activity fun and rewarding, and your child will soon start loving to read!