It’s never too early to start
Babies start to pay attention to the images we show them early on in life. From the moment a child can sit, and sometimes before that, he is interested in little plastic and cardboard books. Mom and dad’s books, magazines and newspapers are of great interest as well! At about the age of one, the little ones love having stories read to them and they try to flip the pages of the book in front of them. This is the child’s first initiation to “writing”. He starts to understand that images and written words have meaning.
Reading and writing were once associated with going to school, but these days, a child will be introduced to reading and writing by his family. You already have everything to initiate your child to this fascinating world right inside your home. Newspapers, books, magazines, flyers, catalogues, mail, papers and crayons are easily accessible and show your child what writing is for. Source of information, reflection, planning, expression and fun, if writing is a part of your life, it will also be for your child!
Stimulation is key
As parents, how can we stimulate our child and still respect his learning development? And above all, not do too much before he goes to school? It's important to remember that children are children first and foremost, and they will have plenty of time to read and write, right?
Know that you don’t have to “teach” your children how to read or write before they go to school, but the initiation to reading and writing can be done through activities before kindergarten. What we call initiation to reading and writing is actually two skills that are developed simultaneously; therefore, one stimulates the other and vice-versa.
Sometimes, we only need to add certain things to our daily routine to initiate our child to this new and colourful world. Here are some examples:
- Have books, images and photo albums nearby at an early age. These are all tools that “open” the road to communication.
- Name objects in your child’s environment. He will understand that each thing has a name and this will teach him/her new words.
- Install a daily reading routine and have fun asking your child questions about what you have read. It will stimulate his imagination, memory and vocabulary.
- Help your child recognize local businesses' logos when you run errands.
- Cook together by following the recipe and using measuring cups and spoons.
- When shopping, look at the clothes tags together to find the right sizes for each family member.
- Identify toy bins with simple drawings or pictograms to allow your child to recognize them.
- Ask your child to cut or tear, (depending on his age) pictures of certain foods in flyers to help you make a grocery list.
- “Write” letters and greeting cards to people you love.
- Draw together and take turns explaining your masterpiece’s “story”.
- Visit your town’s library, or even better, become a member and make going to the library a weekly family outing1.