10 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Pre Reading Skills and Pre Literacy Skills

It doesn’t have to be difficult to develop pre reading skills and pre literacy skills in early childhood, in fact it can be lots of fun! Here are 10 ways to improve and develop your young child’s pre reading skills.

Introduction

When it comes to pre-reading skills, language and literacy development in early childhood, children learn at different stages and in different ways. There are also numerous and multiple ways we can help to foster these skills, as well as encourage a keen interest in all things language, storytelling, writing, pre reading activities, communication and literature.

Here are 10 ways you can easily improve your young child’s pre-reading skills.

ONE – Read a book before bed

There are so many benefits to sharing story time with your child before bedtime. I wrote a whole article on the Benefits of Bed Storytime.

Some of these benefits, as related to pre-literacy skills include:

  • Forming connections between text and illustrations
  • Listening comprehension
  • Understanding that symbols are used to represent information and to communicate ideas.
  • Enjoyment of storytelling and literature
  • Alphabet awareness and phonological awareness
  • Exposure to various vocabulary words
  • Recognise patterns of rhyme, alliteration, letter sound relationships and identification of any familiar words and unfamiliar words within language.
  • Development of narrative skills as they recall and describe story events

You can head to ACECQA’s Starting Blocks website for more helpful info on Reading with Pre-Schoolers1.

When reading stories together, take your time, ask your child questions about the text, about the illustrations, the front cover, about any predictions they might have, about new words they may not have heard before or about what they’re noticing in the story, scaffolding their learning as you chat together.

Explore their recall, their sequencing of events and discuss what they loved (or didn’t love) about the book.

storytime, reading skills, pre reading skills, reading, language and literacy
When reading stories together, take your time, ask your child questions about the illustrations, the front cover, about any predictions they might have, about new words they may not have heard before or about what they’re noticing in the story

TWO – Visit the library together.

Modeling positive reading habits2 can make a huge difference to how your child shows interest in literacy and literature itself.

Are you borrowing books from the local library yourself?

Does your child know how to browse the library for items of interest?

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You could spend time in there exploring various types of picture books, non fiction books or other media and sit and read with them. Create a positive association with libraries, with literature and with reading.

THREE – Point out written words. Everywhere.

There are multitudes of opportunities within our everyday routines to bring attention to the written word, symbols, signs and text.

Think cereal boxes, road signs (such as a big red STOP sign), labels on clothing, public notice signs, words on TV, magazines, brochures in the mail, book covers, shop names, the list can go on!

Ask your child if they can guess what any of these words say, and why they may think that. They may recognise certain symbols or signs and their knowledge might surprise you!

If your child can recognise the letters in their own name, as a starting point, you can point out these alphabet letters within other words or signs, or sentences.

Having a discussion about the written word and about where we find words, signs, text, phrases and sentences, will help your child to understand that written communication is everywhere, people use words and letters to communicate in different ways, and then they will start to notice this more within their everyday environment too, improving their letter knowledge and print awareness. Reading Rockets has further info on Print Awareness too.3

Pointing out written words is a fantastic way to develop school readiness skills too. You can read my best tips on Building School Readiness Skills in my article HERE.

road signs, pre reading,
Ask your child when you’re out and about if they can see words, notice words, or if they know what signs might mean.. they will probably surprise you!

FOUR – Role modelling. Read books yourself.

We have such a massive influence on our child’s lives and their habits and behaviours, even down to how we relax, the things we do in our down time, and how we continue to educate ourselves.

Children who observe their parents reading, valuing books and enjoying books and reading will be much more likely to share those values.

FIVE – Have conversations. Often. Use varied vocabulary.

I’ve always had conversations with my son. Even as a baby, I would ask him how his day was, talk to him about my day and I just kept talking!

As he grew, I continued to converse with him, not as if he was a child and didn’t understand me, but I just included any words and vocabulary I would use with any other adult, and I praised and encouraged any kind of response he would offer me, even just individual sounds which is how he started to respond. Eventually, the responses just grew in complexity as he learned how the spoken word and spoken language is used to communicate.

Art of Smart has some interesting tips on Improving your Child’s Vocabulary4.

language skills, pre reading skills,
Take every opportunity to chat to your kids, converse, ask questions and use a wide and varied vocabulary!

SIX – Draw.

Drawing’s not just for kids! Enjoy drawing with your kids. It’s fantastic for developing language and literacy skills, as well as fine motor abilities, spatial awareness, pencil grip and concept development (colours, shapes, comparisons). As you draw, write words, write your names, write the names of everyone in the family, and identify the beginning sound of these names. You can add signs, symbols and numbers, and make them part of the art!

Children will learn very quickly how significant words, numbers and symbols are, and how pertinent they are to general communication.

drawing, pre literacy skills, pre reading skills, fine motor skills
Draw together! Write your names, include words in your pictures, as well as signs and symbols, and enjoy chatting together as you draw!

SEVEN – Do sequencing activities

Examining sequencing and the order of events helps children to understand stories, storytelling, and how communication works. Stories usually follow a natural sequence of beginning, middle and ending, as do stories and events we verbally communicate. Speech and Language Kids discuss the importance of Sequencing and give some great suggestions for activities.5

When we read books to children, we can point out the sequence of events that occur at the beginning, middle and end and it will help children to learn how to recognise patterns and how natural communication works.

You can also identify sequencing of events with simple everyday tasks, by pointing out to children what happens FIRST, then NEXT, and then LAST.

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For example, when eating a banana, FIRST, we pick up a banana and peel it. NEXT we eat the banana. LAST, we put the skin in the bin or compost.

OR

Brushing our teeth: FIRST, we put paste on the brush and wet it. NEXT, we brush our teeth, and LAST, we rinse, spit, and put the brush away.

EIGHT – Listen to music and sing together!

Music can be kids music, nursery rhymes or just regular pop music (careful with any explicit lyrics.. haha), it doesn’t have to be just the alphabet song.

sharesight

Sing together, dance together if that’s your vibe, and enjoy appreciating the music, tapping or bouncing to the beat and singing words.

Repetition in lyrics is good as it helps children recognise patterns in words and sound, it can help them identify rhyming words, letter sound relationships and get an exposure to varied vocabulary.

Songs for Teaching highlight how to Promote Literacy through Music6 in their article.

singing, kids singing, pre literacy skills
Sing! Music helps children recognise patterns in words and sound, it can help them identify rhyming words, letter sound relationships and get an exposure to varied vocabulary.

NINE – Make a book together

This is something I used to love doing with pre-school children, and they loved the process, showing much pride in their project.

Make up a fun story together with the kids, you could both contribute ideas, and then put them together in a silly story. Figure out the sequence of events (beginning, middle and end) and then draw pictures of these events together, as you write the text under each picture drawn.

You could either staple the pieces of paper together or display it in a display folder, and keep it as a special story and memory of a shared project.

pre reading skills, literacy
Making up a story together can be a really fun activity! You can get silly, have fun with the pictures and explore sequencing and symbolism at the same time!

TEN – Give books as gifts

When it’s time to give gifts to others, what better way to communicate to children the value of beautiful stories and literature, than by giving books to others.

You could involve your kids by getting them to choose a favourite book, or a new book, or one they think the recipient would like.

It also gives them an opportunity to express the kinds of books or stories they might be interested in.

Summary

There are a multitude of ways to develop pre reading and pre literacy skills in young kids, as discussed here. The Raising Children website also has some valuable information on early literacy development7.

The most important thing to remember is that children develop these skills at their own pace, but that stories, books and literature are there to be enjoyed!

When your kids are enjoying storytime, and showing interest in books and in conversing and communicating in general, this should be celebrated and encouraged, to continue and encourage further learning and to really develop those reading readiness skills.

For more information on School Readiness and knowing whether your child is ready or not, you can read my article on ‘School Readiness; How Do I know if my child is ready?’

Happy reading!

You can check out my various Children’s Book Reviews HERE.

Reference List:

  1. READING WITH PRESCHOOLERS, Starting Blocks. Accessed online at https://www.startingblocks.gov.au/at-home/reading-with-preschoolers on August 5, 2023.
  2. Be a Reading Role Model, Jessica Tom, Scholastic. Accessed online at https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/reading-resources/be-reading-role-model.html on August 5, 2023.
  3. Print Awareness Activities for Your Pre-K Child, Reading Rockets. Accessed online at https://www.readingrockets.org/literacy-home/reading-101-guide-parents/your-pre-kindergarten-child/print-awareness-activities on August 5, 2023.
  4. Top 5 Proven Methods to Improving Your Child’s Vocabulary, Lucinda Garbutt-Young, Art of Smart. Accessed online at https://artofsmart.com.au/study/how-to-improve-your-childs-vocabulary/ on August 5, 2023.
  5. Sequencing Activities for Kids, Carrie Clark, Speech and Language Kids. Accessed online at https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/teach-sequencing-skills-children/ on August 5, 2023.
  6. Promoting Literacy Through Music, Laura Woodall and Brenda Ziembroski, Songs for Teaching. Accessed online at https://www.songsforteaching.com/lb/literacymusic.htm on August 5, 2023.
  7. Developing literacy, Raising Children. Accessed online at https://raisingchildren.net.au/preschoolers/play-learning/literacy-reading-stories/developing-literacy on August 5, 2023.

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