Prepare your child when you:

  • Read aloud to your child and discuss the characters, pictures, and events in the book. “Ask your child questions, such as: ‘What do you see in this picture?’ or ‘What do you think the bears will do next?’” says Kathy H. Barclay, EdD, professor of early childhood and reading in the department of curriculum and instruction at Western Illinois University.

 

  • Point out new words in books. For example, Barclay says that after you read: “She took a small nibble of the porridge,” you could say: “It says she took a small nibble. That means she took a really tiny bite of the porridge. Do you ever nibble your food?”

 

  • Sing songs and read books with rhymes and play rhyming games. “Rhyming patterns help children become aware of the individual sounds of language,” Barclay says.

 

  • Play with alphabet magnets and letter stamps so your child will start learning about letters. “Help your child learn to recognize the letters in her own name and in the names of family members and friends,” Barclay says.

 

  • Give your child crayons, pencils, markers, and paper and encourage her to scribble and draw. Eventually she’ll start trying to write letters. But don’t worry about whether she is forming letters correctly in these early stages, Barclay says. It’s more important that she develops motor skills and becomes comfortable with writing.