How to Teach Your Preschooler (3–5 years) to Read

Is your child going to start school soon and you want to give her a head start on reading? Read this article to know about simple and fun ways to teach your preschooler how to read.

By Ananya Subramanian

How to Teach Your Preschooler (3–5 years) to Read

Reading is at the heart of formal education and is one of the first things a preschooler learns to do in school. Learning to read early in life has numerous benefits, ranging from faster development of the brain to increased creativity, imagination and self-confidence.

Although most preschoolers display a natural urge to read, the complexities of learning to read coupled with the lack of proper guidance dampens their desire. If your child is eager to begin reading, follow our tips to teach him how to read in a fun and easy way.

1. Reading out loud: It is always best to begin by arousing the desire to read in your child. You can do this by reading out loud to her from an early age. Read out simple bedtime stories or rhymes. This will prepare your child to learn how to read and write. It will help in developing her speech and teach her how to memorise by listening.

2. Playing letter games: Instead of teaching your child to learn and read the letters of the alphabet from a book, use alphabet-shaped toys, letter boards and jigsaw puzzles. These items are easily available in most bookstores. You can also play simple letter games such as ‘alphabetising the flowers’, ‘guess the letter’ and so on to help your child learn and read the alphabet.

3. Developing phonetic awareness: After teaching the letters of the alphabet, you need to help your child develop an understanding of phonetics (various letter combinations and their corresponding sounds). Teaching your child phonetics will help him understand how to sound out words. Although, initially, your child may find learning phonetics a little confusing, a good understanding of phonetics will help him read better later on.

4. Reading words and phrases: Once your child begins to understand phonetics, you can begin encouraging her to read words. You can begin with ‘sight’ words, which are nothing but the most common words that appear in almost every page of a book, such as who, the, he, were, does, their, me, be. Also, these words cannot be sounded out. Your child will have to learn them by identifying and recognising them. After your child has learnt these, she can move on to reading simple phrases consisting of a few words. Reading simple sentences will help your child put the words into context, which is essential for her to master reading.

5. Making books accessible: How can your child develop the habit of reading if he does not have anything to read from. So, make sure that storybooks or other interesting reading materials are always around for him to pick up and start reading. You can also keep books along with his toys in the play area so that he starts associating reading with a fun activity. Choose simple books that teach letters and numbers to engage him in reading in a way that fascinates him.

Following the above-mentioned tips diligently will help your child learn how to read and become an independent reader quite soon. But, you should keep in mind that reading is not an activity you should push your child into doing against her wishes. As a parent, your role is to create the right environment for her to begin reading, provide her with the appropriate tools, and help and support her in her efforts to learn reading. It is also important for you to remember that every child learns at her own pace. So, refrain from comparing your preschooler with other children of her age. However, if you think that your child’s pace of learning is slower than that of other children, consult a paediatri-cian or specialist at the earliest.