Your child may not learn to read until they have entered school, but there is a lot that caregivers can do to help develop pre-reading skills of the children in their lives, so that these little ones will be ready for reading when the time comes. Librarians all over utilize the five practices of Every Child Ready to Read when preparing programming for their youngest patrons to nurture these skills, and you can too! The five practices of Every Child Ready to Read are Reading, Talking, Singing, Playing, and Writing.
Singing is a great early literacy skill to practice because it provides opportunities to hear new vocabulary words, and it allows for children to hear the smaller parts of words (phonological awareness) because we generally sing to children at a slower rate than we speak to them. Singing also sparks joy, which creates a more fruitful learning environment. Songs can help children understand concepts like opposites (I often say that singing Roly Poly is my favorite way to practice opposites!), colors, size, numbers and shapes. Finally, singing helps children build their listening skills, which will help make time spent reading more enjoyable for everyone. While singing with the children in your life, you can:
- Bounce, tap, clap, or shake (a rattle or an egg shaker or a toilet paper tube with plastic wrap and duct tape at the ends with popcorn, rice, or beans inside) to the rhythm of the song.
- Sing the ABCs to increase knowledge of letters.
- Sing songs that tell a story, like Mary Had a Little Lamb or the Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Use hand movements to indicate numbers, directions (over, under, up, down, etc.), or to act out the lyrics. Movement helps children learn!
- Incorporate instruments like bells, tambourines, hand drums, or egg shakers to promote creative expression and practice gross motor skills.
- Repeat your favorite songs over and over; repetition promotes learning and increases enjoyment – children love to learn lyrics and sing along.
If you need help remembering lyrics, learning new songs, or coming up with hand movements, Jbrary.com has an excellent collection of videos demonstrating songs of all kinds; visit their list of YouTube playlists here. https://jbrary.com/youtube-playlists/
For more information on Every Child Ready to read, check out this earlier blog post: https://www.elpl.org/blogs/post/lets-get-ready-to-read/