5 Things You Can Do . . . To Help Your Child Learn

1) Wherever you are, make life a "letter hunt." Be it the grocery store, drug store, the zoo, or in the car, pick a letter and find it in signage and brand names. See if you can get all 26 letters. Or choose a letter from the alphabet and search your home for words that start with that letter. Try labeling those objects using a labeler or post-it notes. (Please be forewarned! Pets exhibit a near-universal discomfort in being labeled.) After naming items individually, try using a different colored labels to group them by type, shape, color, or size. For example, "couch" could also end up with the labels "brown," "soft," "rectangular," and "furniture."

2) Read to your child every day. Demonstrate for your child how to read with expression. If a book has pictures, relate the words to the pictures. Even if you're tired of a book, read it again for the umpteenth time! If you are repeating an old favorite, change the words in silly ways and let your child catch you "messing it up."

3) Give your child a newspaper clipping or magazine and have them find a letter with a crayon. CIRCLE ALL THE "T"s. Give them paper and their favorite colored marker and let them experiment with writing or tracing the letters they've found.

4) Spend time with letters of the alphabet that can be arranged and rearranged into different words. Make sure you have duplicates; we don't live in a world where one "e" suffices. If your child is past the indiscriminate swallowing age, a couple of sets of Scrabble letters should give more than enough variety for early readers. The large refrigerator magnets will do nicely as well.

5) Take your child to get his or her own library card, and then visit the library regularly. Many libraries have programs for early readers, like story time, as well as afterschool programs for older children. Books on CD, which most libraries carry, provide a great opportunity for a child to read a book independently and to hear an expert reader's modeling.

Tags: 5 Things You Can Do, Reading, Preschool
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