If are the parent of a preschooler, you are probably trying to keep your head above water. Four and five-year-olds are B-U-S-Y, and you may struggle just getting the laundry done and food on the table, especially if you are working a full-time job.
While it seems as if your kiddo is doing fine in preschool, you worry that when they enter grade school, they may start to struggle. You don’t have time to do extra lessons each night, and your child starts shutting down after a long day at preschool anyway.
What can you do as a busy, working mom to help your child become a better reader?
There are plenty of activities you can do while on-the-go that will improve your child’s reading ability. They take no supplies and no specialized training. In fact, they are so simple that you can do some of them while walking through Target or riding in the car.
When trying to determine which children may struggle as beginning readers, reading specialists test children on their ability to rhyme. Studies show that children who can rhyme are more ready to read than those who can’t.
How do you teach rhyming? One fun way is to sing fun songs such as Down By the Bay, where kids are encouraged to come up with their own rhyming lyrics. Look up YouTube videos if you aren’t familiar with the tune.
Most songs have rhyming words. If you make it a habit to listen to kids music while in the car, turn down the song at the end of a stanza to have your child predict what word finishes the line.
Those old, weirdo nursery rhymes have not gone out of style. They not only are part of our cultural literacy but they also, you guessed it, encourage rhyming.
Repeating nursery rhymes also increases your child’s vocabulary. What is this “pail” thing that Jack and Jill are carrying up the hill? Miss Muffett sat on a tuffet. What the heck’s a tuffet? You can use the opportunity to show your child that you are always willing to learn too.
Encourage your child to take a break from screens and look at the outside world as you pass it by. Read the street signs and billboards. Your children will gain confidence as readers as they read McDonald’s, Home Depot, and Target signs. Sure, they are probably not necessarily decoding the actual words, but understanding visual clues is a pre-reading strategy.
Sure, teach your child to sing the ABC song but don’t stop there. If you’re at the zoo and see a monkey, talk about how the word “monkey” starts with an “mmm” sound. Ask, “what other words start with that same sound?”
Don’t worry about linking the letter “m” to the sound at this point. The child needs to understand that letters are connected with specific sounds.
If your child grasps this concept, start talking about the ending sound of words.
While we are talking about the ABC song, make sure your child slows down during the L-M-N-O-P section of the song. Some kindergartners think they are singing the names of two or three letters during that section of the song instead of five different letters.
Be careful about how you talk about school. You want your child to have positive school experience, right? Then make sure you don’t speak negatively about your own school days. If you don’t have anything positive to share about your personal school experience, then don’t talk about it at all.
The same goes for reading. If you present reading as a job or task, your child will think of reading negatively.
Well-intentioned parents list reading as a job that needs to be completed before the child can have fun. What does this signify to the child? It says that reading, like homework, is something to be dreaded.
While all kids are different and have their own natural proclivities, your child has a better chance of being a reader and a curious-minded learner if you are that type of person. If you make reading a priority in your life, your children will notice.
One more note about reading. Quit paying attention to those parents who brag about how their children were reading at a third-grade level before starting kindergarten. Every child learns to read at different times. Even if your child struggles in kindergarten and first grade to grasp some pre-reading concepts, that doesn’t mean your child will be an academic failure.
Find balance in your life. Find teachable moments when you are interacting with your child but don’t become obsessive.
This article was originally posted at Midlife Single Mommy.