5 ways to help develop your child’s reading skills

Children can begin developing the skills to prepare them for reading long before they are actually ready to learn how to read.

How Parents Can Help

Parents can ignite this course of development at home. One of the first steps in this process is to promote early language development and vocabulary, by naming objects and talking to your child about what he or she is doing. Another pre-reading activity is to point out pictures and words of interest in the environment (e.g. posters in play centres; stop signs).

It’s Never Too Early to Start!

Books can be introduced at any age! The focus does not have to be on reading. Simply turning the pages, looking at pictures, and hearing your vocal expressions and reactions will help evoke your child’s interest in reading material.

Taking it To the Next Level

Once you do begin reading stories, take time to pause the story and talk about the pictures as you go. Anticipate and predict what might be under the flap or on the next page. Finally, let your child take the lead in selecting books and expressing his or her interests. Beware…this may require reading the same book again and again, for what feels like an eternity. Just remember, you are doing it all to support your little one’s future reading skills.

How to Develop Speech & Language skills While Reading

We all have books in our home and most children love to read or be read to. We often forget that books can help our little ones learn many different skills aside from recognizing letters/words and reading.

You can target speech and language skills while reading books as well. Books are fantastic because you can modify them to be appropriate for any age group or skill level.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

One book that many of us, including myself, enjoy reading with our children is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” written by Eric Carle.

This book is great for learning many things: learning food vocabulary, the ‘k’ sound, the process of how a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly, and the days of the week, to name a few.

How to Target Speech & Language Skills With Your Child

• Have your child label or point to each food as the caterpillar eats through each food item. Talk about whether the food is healthy or not, what category the food belongs in and whether the child enjoys that food or not

• Target the sound ‘k’ with the words in the book (e.g. cocoon, cake, caterpillar). Have your child repeat or say the word on their own, depending on their skill level.

• Have your child retell the story when you are finished. You can talk to your child about the beginning, middle and end of the book. You can prompt your child by using phrases such as, “the little egg was on the leaf, then what happened?” or, “at the end of the book the caterpillar made a cocoon, then what happened?”

• For more advanced levels you can go through the book and use the phrase, “on _____ he ate through one apple,” and have your child fill in the day of the week.

Continue to read with your child and watch their speech and language skills grow each day. Stay tuned for how you can help to develop speech and language with other favorite children’s books.