It might feel like your child is growing like a sprout — just yesterday it seemed they were learning how to walk, and now they’re embarking on the wonderful world of preschool reading!
But don’t worry, we’re here to make sure you don’t get swept up in the tide.
Once your child advances to preschool reading, they’ll be introduced to new adventures and knowledge. All the while, they’ll develop loads of critical skills that will support their learning for years to come. Talk about reading readiness!
Our goal with this article is to let you know what your preschooler will learn and accomplish, as well as how you can elevate their learning at home (while having fun!).
Elements Of Preschool Reading
Learning to read is a complex process. Before your child cozies up with a volume of Shakespeare, there are some skills they’ll need to learn first.
Preschool introduces your child to so many new things! One of the first (and most important) lessons they’ll learn is how to listen.
The levels of focus your child uses in the classroom and at home are likely very different. The attentive listening necessary for successful learning is something your child may not be accustomed to at first.
Don’t fret! It will take time, but during preschool, your child will learn how to listen carefully so they can absorb and execute their teachers’ instructions. An added bonus — their listening skills will improve at home, too!
Listening attentively is particularly important during preschool reading. In order to properly receive and internalize all the information they’ll get from a story, your child needs to have their ears “open” and their brains “on.”
Stories are all about emotions. Your child will likely understand this instinctively. When a character does something bad or silly, they’ll react to the action with disapproval or laughter.
The more engaging the book, the more dramatic a reaction your child may have. If they’re invested in the events of a story, they’ll probably display some intense responses! Responsiveness to stories shows that your child is engaged, focused, and learning.
Try to choose books that appeal to your child’s interests. Additionally, books that emphasize simple storylines, easy sentences, vibrant pictures, and plenty of action are great choices!
These books should also have content that helps your child learn while still having fun. Working on their colors, alphabet skills, or sizes, shapes, and numbers as part of storytime is a bonus!
Phonological Awareness And Learning The Alphabet
Before learning how to read words, your child has to learn how words are made — with letters and sounds, of course!
This is where phonological awareness, alphabetic skills, and letter-sound correspondence come into play.
Phonological awareness involves the sounds that make up words. For preschoolers, that means, among other things, recognizing rhyming words and being able to count the number of syllables in a word.
When we say “letter-sound correspondence,” we mean that your child not only knows the alphabet but also knows what sounds match the alphabet letters. Your child will learn the sound represented by the letter T before they learn how to read and write it.
Knowing how to recognize these letters, both uppercase and lowercase, means your child will be able to engage in phonological awareness activities of all kinds.
As a result, they’ll become a mighty and capable preschool learner!
Preschoolers are a little too young to know how to pinpoint metaphors or talk about what characters might represent. However, that doesn’t mean preschool reading doesn’t include comprehension skills!
Your preschooler will learn how to summarize a story’s events by prioritizing important details. They’ll also use their recall skills to retell their favorite simple stories. These summaries will be sequential, too, as they learn how to follow and remember a story in order.
Preschoolers may ask questions about what happened in a story to learn more about it. Additionally, they can answer simple questions about things that happened, how characters felt, or about concrete visual details (what color was Rapunzel’s hair?).
Focused comprehension skills contribute to your child’s understanding of language and storytelling and adds to their vocabulary.
They’ll get better and better at comprehension the more they practice it!
Writing And Reading Applications
What may look like scribbles to you are your preschooler’s attempts at writing! Pre-writing activities, like scribbling and drawing, are crucial for the development of your child’s reading and writing skills.
It’s perfectly fine that their writing may not be legible yet. What matters is that your child is expressing a desire to write and can distinguish between their own writing and drawing.
During preschool, your child will copy letters and words with increasing accuracy as their fine motor skills develop. The very first thing they’ll likely learn how to do is to write and read their own name.
If they have siblings, they’ll probably use this skill to their great advantage to start labeling things that belong to them.
As their writing skills develop during preschool, so will their reading skills and, as a result, their interest in stories. They may launch into storytelling at any moment, either about an event that happened during their day or about a story they read with their class.
They may grow more adventurous with reading, asking to read on their own (which will mostly include reciting their favorite book from memory), or engage in pseudo reading by “reading” store signs, recipe instructions as you cook, or birthday cards.
Book And Print Awareness
Last but not least, your child’s preschool reading skills will include book and print awareness skills. Your child will learn more than just the things happening to characters.
They’ll also learn how to use the information on books to get hints about a story. The cover illustration, for instance, is often a preview to the story within.
They will learn what the author and illustrator do, as well as how to identify information aspects of a book such as the title, the table of contents, and the spine.
They’ll also understand how to use books properly. They’ll learn that pages turn from right to left, reading happens from left to right and top to bottom, and that the spaces between words help us read.
Pictures are also great elements to rely on, as well. Your child will learn to use pictures and illustrations to support the information they hear and read in stories.
Strengthening Preschool Reading Skills
Practice The Alphabet
Practicing the alphabet is always a great way to support your child’s preschool reading skills!
Singing the alphabet and playing alphabet games are easy, fun ways to practice their knowledge and help them master the alphabet.
These activities will help them understand the alphabetic principle and support their efforts in recognizing and learning letters.
Play Phonological Awareness Games
At HOMER, we offer several phonological awareness games you and your child can play together. They’re simple, effective, and lots of fun!
Phonological awareness games emphasize your child’s ability to play with words by rhyming or swapping around different letter sounds in words. These games will help develop their preschool reading skills and beyond!
Work On Their Fine Motor Skills
Developing your preschoolers’ writing skills doesn’t just have to involve tracing letters. We encourage you to experiment with different ways to develop their fine motor skills.
One such way is by incorporating time for your child to craft with you. You can cut, glue, paint, and trace different shapes, numbers, letters, or imaginative illustrations. All of these things allow your child’s fine motor skills to grow.
Don’t be afraid to include your child when you have a writing task. For example, if someone has a birthday coming up and you’re writing a card for them, we encourage you to leave a little space for your child to “write” their own message.
Practice makes perfect!
Make Up Stories Together
Who says you have to limit your child to reading books that are already published? It might be a nice change of pace to make up a story together!
You two can choose to write down your story and pair it with illustrations or just tell it orally. You can start by providing a scenario.
For example, “One sunny day, Mr. Turtle was sitting on a log.” Then ask your child to tell you what might happen next. Repeat the process until your story is complete!
Explore New Learning Methods
Traditional learning methods are great (they’re traditions for a reason!). But every now and then, your child may be itching for something new.
HOMER’s Learn & Grow app may be the perfect thing to change up your routine! Our personalized activities will help your preschooler fine-tune their reading skills and really relish in the fun and excitement that comes with reading.
Preschool Reading Is Just The Beginning
We hope this article helped you navigate the world of preschool reading. We want to leave you with a reminder that this complete guide isn’t a set of rules. Your child may learn some of these skills a little faster or slower than you expect.
That’s perfectly OK! Children learn at their own pace. With all of these fun activities, we know you’ll enjoy the process of “getting there” as much as you will enjoy your child mastering preschool reading.
And don’t forget — HOMER is always here to lend a helping hand in your child’s reading journey. Our Learn & Grow app is ready and waiting with tons of learning activities just for them!