I don’t know what’s worse — the anxiety about your little one starting kindergarten or the knowledge that you are now going to play a pivotal role in him becoming a reader.
The pressure you put on yourself to help your kindergartner become a reader can be overwhelming.
Trust me, I know.
I’ve been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it.
Thankfully, I am here to tell you that it’s not as hard as it seems. Here are three things that helped me help my kindergartners become readers.
Even if you’ve never taught a day in your life, you can do them!
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Help Your Kindergartner Become a Reader
1. Read, read, and read some more.
Books, magazines, street signs, brochures, and more are all fair game when it comes to reading. The more you read to your child, the stronger his vocabulary and reading skills will be. If you’ve never read to your child a day in his life, it’s not too late to start. Early literacy helps give kids a strong foundation and helps them become better readers themselves. If you’re not sure what to read, talk with your local children’s librarian or try some of these best books for children.
2. Use technology.
Break out the tablet and download reading and language arts learning apps to help your kindergartner become a lover of words. Apps like ABCmouse.com also have full sites that are great for using on your laptop or desktop computer.
These programs allow your child to practice seeing, hearing, saying, and identifying letters, words, and sounds in fun, game-like settings. Many learning apps for tablets are also available for your phone, so check those out too!
I used to be intimidated by the thought of teaching phonics to my sons because it seemed too challenging.
What if I got it wrong?!
I didn’t want to doom them from the start. ABCmouse was my saving grace because it took that nervousness away and gave me new ways to introduce letter sounds. I would have been lost without it, and I truly believe that my kids wouldn’t be the readers they are now if we hadn’t used it. It was our go-to program.
3. Practice makes progress.
Part of becoming a better reader is becoming a better writer. To help your kindergartner improve his writing skills, help him practice spelling and writing his name.
Alphabet refrigerator magnets worked great for us when my boys were learning. We also made writing fun by experimenting with different surfaces and writing utensils. They loved writing in chalk, so they’d write their names in the driveway and on the chalkboard that was in their play kitchen.
As they progressed from writing their names to writing more words, we’d leave notes for one another in a journal. I used printable ones and then had them bound at the office supply store; it was a lot cheaper than buying fancy ones! I still have the ones we used when they were learning to write in kindergarten and I can’t wait to bring them out when they’re ready to graduate from high school.
It doesn’t really matter how you get them writing, just the practice of holding a pencil, recognizing letters and sounds, and putting it all together on a writing surface can make a huge impact on their reading and writing abilities.
The most important thing to remember is that helping your kindergartner become a reader isn’t as scary as it sounds.
Use the world around you and help him make connections between what he sees in the world and what he reads in books. Ask questions, tell stories and jokes, and lead by example.
And there’s nothing more powerful than seeing mom or dad pick up a book and read for fun. Happy reading!