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How To Teach Preschool Kids (3 To 5-Year-Olds) To Read: The Ultimate Guide For Parents

Ananya Subramanian Ananya Subramanian 6 Mins Read

Ananya Subramanian Ananya Subramanian


Is your child going to start school soon? Do you want to give her a head start on reading? Then read on for a few simple and fun ways on how to teach your kid to read.

How To Teach Preschool Kids (3 To 5-Year-Olds) To Read: The Ultimate Guide For Parents

Reading is at the heart of formal education. So, it 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 dampen their desire. If your child is eager to begin reading, follow our tips on how to teach your kid to read in a fun and easy way.

Familiarize with letters of the alphabet

  • The ability to read comes with the ability to recognize the letters of the alphabet. So, begin by teaching your kid how to read the letters of the English alphabet. Here are a few simple and fun ways of doing it:
  • Reading out loud: It is always best to begin. Reading to your child would arouse her desire to read as well. So, read out loud to her from an early age. Read 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 memorize by listening.
  • Playing letter games: There is a better way of teaching your child to learn and read the letters of the alphabet than from a book. You can 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 'alphabetizing the flowers', 'guess the letter', and so on to help your child learn and read the alphabet.
  • Creating alphabet art: Kids love to play with paint, playdough, and other such materials. So, you can channelize your child's love for art to teach him the letters of the alphabet. Get together and make the letters with playdough or paint them on chart paper or use shaving cream to create them or make them with sand of various colors. The possibilities are endless.
  • Play letter hunt: Another fun activity to familiarise your child with letters is through letter hunt. Write letters on flashcards and hide them in various places around the house. Now, give your preschooler a clue and challenge her to find it.
  • Eat the alphabet: Eating the letters of the alphabet can be a yummy delight. Serve food to your child arranged like the various letters or cook items like dosa or chapatti in the shape of letters. You can be sure your child would keep asking for more.

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.

A scientific study about phonemic awareness (PA) found that "PA instruction helped various types of children: normally developing readers as well as at-risk and disabled readers: preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders..." The study further observed that "PA instruction improved preschoolers' rudimentary word recognition skill. Not only immediate but also long-term."

Here is how to teach phonics to preschoolers:

  • Teach letter sounds: This should be the first step in your effort to teach phonics to your child. Show your child a letter of the English alphabet and then say how it sounds. Ask him to repeat after you.
  • Blend sounds: This is the next step. Read and make your child understand how to blend the consonant and vowel sounds together. For example, pan, top, bun, and so on.

Practise diagraphs: Learning the concept of how to combine and pronounce two successive letters is essential to read and write well. This should be the next thing you should teach your child. For example, how to pronounce consonant-consonant sounds like sh, ch, tch (shoo, choo, catch) and vowel-vowel sounds like oo and ai (moon, rain)

Explain sight words for preschoolers

Once your child begins to understand phonetics, you can begin encouraging her to read 'sight' words. These are the most common words that appear on almost every page of a book, such as I, my, you, we, am, it, is, at, can, not, go, do, to, a and the. These are words that you cannot represent in the form of pictures; however, they can be understood. There are 220 sight words in English and your child will need to memorize them. But, learning sight words is not easy and needs effort on your child's part. Some of the sight words you can teach your preschooler include -Here is how to teach sight words to preschoolers:

  • Use flashcards: Write one sight word on each card. Go through these words with your preschooler. Once both of you have finished reading the cards, quiz your child to see what he remembers.
  • Write a sentence: Give your child a notebook and a pencil and challenge him to write short sentences using sight words she has learned.
  • Write a story: Repetition is the key to memorizing sight words. So, once your child begins to write short sentences well, encourage him to write a short story of his own using sight words.

Make 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 pediatrician or specialist at the earliest.

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