Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Leading Up to Reading: Activities for the Pre-Reader

Want to give your child a jump start to reading? Pre-readers need plenty of varied experiences and exposure to hands-on activities to ready the brain for reading. Most of these influential activities happen very naturally in the course of a day and are therefore easy to provide. Nurture your pre-reader with foundational experiences from which they will build reading skills. Listed below are a few of the many activities which ready the brain for reading:
  • Reading aloud to children, even if only for a few minutes a day.
  • Touching the pages and looking at the pictures while reading.
  • Placing inviting reading materials in the home environment.
  • Visiting zoos, government buildings, historic landmarks, museums, post offices, public gardens, grocery stores, airports, doctors’ offices and hardware stores.
  • Providing an assortment of writing materials such as chalk, colored pencils, pastels, markers and crayons as writing and reading are closely related.
  • Digging in the dirt, collecting rocks, counting acorns, and searching for sea shells, making verbal observations along the way.
  • Smelling the aromas and tasting the flavors in different ethnic restaurants.
  • Touching textures: tree bark, soft cotton, silky ties, cold snow, rough sandpaper, bumpy tires, scratchy bricks and more.
  • Talking about family history with an older loved one.
  • Looking at family photos, dialoguing about what is happening, where the pictures were taken and who is present in the pictures.
  • Cooking and baking which requires measuring, observing, chopping, mixing and tasting.
  • Helping with household responsibilities: setting the table, caring for pets, emptying the trash, folding the laundry, making the beds, organizing the pantry, and unloading the dishwasher.
  • Making and pretending with many types of puppets.
  • Interacting with people of differing cultures and races.
Not all of these activities are feasible for every family. Do what is reasonable and resist the temptation to compare your family with others. It is more important to relax and enjoy what activities you can with your children rather than to feel guilty about what is not experienced. Happy pre-reading!

(This blog entry is an excerpt from You HAVE to Read This One: Raising a Contagious Reader by Cheryl Bastian)

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