4-5 years: learning to read
At this age you need to concentrate on your child's confidence while reading. This is not a time to worry about testing them on the words they know. Just enjoy the time you spend together sharing books. Grandparents and big brothers and sisters can be a part of this too.
- Take turns to read bits of a favourite story. A full story is sometimes too much for early readers.
- Don't panic if your child memorises stories - this isn't cheating! This simply shows that your child is satisfied with himself/herself for remembering the story. Recognising words will soon follow once the story is familiar.
- Talk about pictures and details that catch your child's interest. This will help with understanding the story and with guessing new words. Guessing is important when the child understands what the story is likely to say and chooses words, which make sense.
- Run your finger under the words as you read together. In this way, words are seen and heard together.
- Don't make a big deal if your child makes a mistake. Give praise even if your child reads a word or a phrase that is wrong. Ask your child to read the sentence or page again to see if he/she can correct his/her own mistake. This is the early stage of self-correction.
- Practice the alphabet by playing "I spy, with my little eye" so your child knows which letter begins different words.
- Play a game of 'spot the words' on signs and labels - on the street, in shops and in your cupboards.
- Go to your local library and choose books together. You may need to be a member but it is usually free to hire books from libraries. Let your child choose which book but give advice. Encourage your child to bring books home from school also.
- Some children love reading about the same characters. If that's what your child likes, choose several short books that are part of a series or a book with a lot of chapters in it. Reading a chapter a night works well.
- Continue to read to your child every day. Try to choose books to read to your child that are above your child's reading level but at the child's interest level.
- Write notes to your child - it's a great way to get them to focus on words.