Children are born with innate language skills. Notwithstanding, there’s need to make conscientious efforts to groom these skills from as early as babyhood, as they are generally most receptive to learning in the first 5 years.
For preschoolers who already possess deep listening as well as rapidly developing speech, the key to greater milestones, including reading, is to keep learning activities simple, one at a time and fun!
Find a few helpful tips:
1. Point At And Label Items
As early as possible, cultivate the habit of pointing at and naming items in your home or elsewhere your child is curious about. Also show distinction between colours (green, blue, red, and so on), shapes and sizes (big, small, huge, little) by asking them to fetch items. This helps them associate the quite abstract names of items with their meaning. Simple words, sight words and rhyming games may also help.
2. Teach Attentiveness
At this age, children are not too skilled in reading and writing, so, interaction and learning is mostly through oral communication. Grooming good listening skills will therefore aid better comprehension, paving way for more learning and expressiveness. You’ll find sustaining their concentration and interest influence getting them to listen. It helps to teach them to keep their eyes on whoever is to talking to them (this may help them focus and tune out distractions) while staying calm.
In addition, always model good listening habits by avoiding distractions and paying total attention when they’re talking to you.
3. Talk More
Young children love to tell loved ones details about their new and past experiences, discoveries, observations, feelings and so on. With a listening ear and interested look, you can use these usually haphazard accounts as subtle teachable moments.
Remember, it’s not about tiring drills nor spotting and correcting their flawed speech over-zealously. Don’t make fun at their pronunciations or expressions. If they feel you’ll only embarrass them, they may learn to keep their lips sealed often. Only repeat their words or rephrase statements in appropriate form, and with time, they’ll learn.
4. Have a Routine Reading Time
If you’ve been reading to your child from infancy, they’ll likely be very familiar with the process by now. If you haven’t done so already, invest in alphabet, song, picture, rhyming, story and adventure books for children this age. Teach them how to hold a book appropriately, flip the pages, observe illustrative images, and read interesting books to their listening routinely.
Before, during and after these reading sessions, ask questions which encourage lots of expression as well as evaluate the level of comprehension.
5. Surround With Lots of Positive Influence
Children are like sponges and the bulk of what they learn is most times mindlessly picked from their environment. So, make sure your home and their school environment are such that learning the wrong forms of language use and reading habits are not reinforced. Expose them to other language friendly environments through age-appropriate videos and keep tabs on errors mindlessly learned from peers.
This list is not exhaustive, discover more as you go and modify to suit your child’s needs and learning pace.