Ready for Kindergarten

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School Readiness Begins at Birth!

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. Your child has been learning about language and literacy since birth!

When you spend time reading, talking, singing and playing together with words and language you are helping to get your child ready for kindergarten. As a parent, you are your child's first and best teacher - and the key to your child's school success!

Help your child get ready to read with these simple activities

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Talking

Your child learns to talk by listening to you and others around him. By the time your child is school age, he or she will understand at least 3000 words.  Learning lots of new words will help your child recognize written words and understand them when reading begins.

What you can do now–

        • Talk with your preschooler as you go through the day—about things you see, how things work, feelings and ideas.
        • Listen carefully when your child talks and add more details when you reply, to keep the conversation going.
        • Ask your child lots of questions and wait for a response.
        • When you read, point out and name what you see in the pictures.
        • Ask open-ended questions, such as “what do you think is happening in this picture” and “what do you remember about when we went to the zoo?”.  
        • Talk in your native language.

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Singing

Songs are a wonderful and fun way to learn about language.  Singing slows down language so that your child can hear the different sounds that make up words. Research shows that when words or phrases are sung or chanted, they can be remembered more easily—since the brain creates patterns or pathways through repetition.

What you can do now-

        • Sing the alphabet song to learn about letters.
        • Sing nursery rhymes so your preschooler can hear the different sounds in words.
        • Clap along to rhythms in songs to hear the syllables or sounds that make up words.
        • Think up rhyming words and make up songs to go with them.

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Reading

Reading together is the single most important way to help your child learn about language and get ready for reading. Reading increases vocabulary and your child’s knowledge of his or her world.  Your child will learn how print looks and how books work.  And it shows your child that books and reading are fun—so he will want to learn to read on his own.

What you can do now–

        • Read every day for a few minutes, only as long as your child is interested.
        • Interact with books by looking at the cover and predicting what the book is about.
        • Let your child turn the pages and help “read”.
        • Ask questions about the story as you read and listen to the answers.
        • When you finish the book, see if your child can retell the story.
        • Explain uncommon words in the story.
        • Learn about the world by choosing true books on subjects that your child likes, such as animals, or trucks.
        • Visit the library often to find books, and let your child choose the ones that he or she likes.
        • Find and read print everywhere as you go through your day.

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Writing

Reading and writing go together.  Both represent spoken language, and help your preschooler to learn to communicate information. Children can learn pre-reading skills through writing activities, and they can start to understand that writing is about telling a story.

What you can do now-

        • Encourage writing by providing opportunities for your child to draw and pretend-write.
        • Have paper and crayons within reach.
        • Show your child how to write his or her name.
        • Write captions for the drawings that your child makes, so that he or she can see the connection between pictures, print, and spoken language.

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Playing

For young children, play is learning and learning is play.  Language improves as children engage in imaginative play with favorite dolls or toys.  As they learn to think symbolically, children learn that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences.  Play also helps children to express themselves and put thoughts into words.

What you can do now-

        • Give your baby plenty of playtime, especially unstructured play, when they can explore their own interests and favorite playtime objects as they wish.
        • Encourage imaginative play and making up stories about what they are doing; use puppets or stuffed animals to tell stories, which improves vocabulary and narrative skills—this also helps children to learn that stories and books have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
        • Pretend to read a book and make up a story together.
        • Have your child “read” a favorite book from memory.

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Learning the ABC's

Letter knowledge means knowing all of the letters, their names and sounds, and recognizing them. 

Here are some tips for helping your preschool child learn about the letters of the alphabet- 

        • Read alphabet books with clearly formed letters and pictures, including the lower case letters. 
        • Point out letters on toys, food, and other objects around the house and on outings.
        • Play a game by selecting one letter and thinking of words that all begin with that letter sound. 
        • Invest in some large foam letters or an alphabet puzzle to play with.
        • Sing the alphabet song. 
        • Make sure your child knows the letters in his or her name.