Children learn how to talk instinctively. It is a natural process. It occurs through interaction with family members, caregivers, or even playmates. However, this is not the case with reading. Reading must be learned.
Learning to read combines visual and auditory skills. For example, as a child recognizes a sound, he or she should start to visually associate that sound with the appropriate letter.
Where does a parent, as their child's first teacher, begin this "learning to read" process?
Reading aloud to your child is essential! The more you read to children, the more sounds they will hear. The more sounds children hear and distinguish, the better they listen. And, the better they listen, the quicker they will learn to associate those sounds with the printed word! It's all about building skills in logical sequence.
Hearing sounds in spoken language is called "Phonemic Awareness." It is a critical pre-reading skill. A great way to practice "Phonemic Awareness" is to have your child listen to, and identify rhymes.
Get out those old "Mother Goose" books and read lots of Nursery Rhymes to your child! Some rhymes that children love are: "Little Miss Muffet," "Jack and Jill," "Hey Diddle Diddle," "Hickory, Dickory Dock," "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and any others that might appeal to your child, or ones that you loved hearing when you were a child.
Have some fun with them! "Act out" a rhyme, or substitute your child's name in the rhyme. (Mike be nimble, Mike be quick, Mike jump over the candlestick!)
Or, change the action. (Jack and Jill went down the hill...) Be as creative as imaginable. Your child will never tire of hearing you read these classics!