Preschool Prereading Activities That Make a Child an Early Reader

10 things parents can do to teach preschool prereading activities.

Do preschool prereading activities at home to help your child become an early reader.

Preschool prereading activities are easy and fun. You don’t need to rely on a future kindergarten teacher to teach your child how to read.  You can do it even if you don’t have any background in education. Don’t wait until your child is in kindergarten to start prereading activities. Start now. There are 10 very simple things parents can do with their kids that will teach preschool prereading activities.

Preschool Prereading Activities for Parents to Do at Home

1. Read to each child individually on a daily set schedule.

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In our house we read just before bedtime. I spend a total average of 30 minutes reading to my three boys. I let each child pick their own book. While I am reading with one child the others are either following along, looking at the pictures in their own book, or (as in the case of my 16 month old) playing quietly and observing. Let the child lead you where they want to go as far as their interests and abilities allow. For example, some children want to focus only on the pictures, and that is okay. You want them to enjoy books. Period. Just be patient and it will happen over time. My eldest child loved preschool prereading activities from an early age. He recognized his letters at two, and knew all the sounds by 2 1/2. My middle child was much different. I did the same preschool prereading activities with him, but he didn’t catch on right away. This is okay. Don’t be discouraged. My middle boy loved to hear the stories and learn about science related things. He just didn’t have interest in learning the letters. Instead we developed a very special habit. I would read him the book and then he would retell it to me in his own words. He is now three. He loves books so much he is beginning to have an interest in preschool prereading activities that teach letters and sounds.

2. Get a Library Card for each of your kids.

Get a list of 10 preschool prereading activities to do with your child at home to encourage literacy.This is essential for their enthusiasm and independence. Most libraries will assign cards for children as young as two. Set aside one day out of the week, maybe bi-weekly, or even monthly if that is all you have the time for. Then turn them loose at the library. It is a playground of information at their disposal, and it is all free. If you are lucky, your library will offer preschool prereading activities through special events. This comes in handy especially when a child develops a particular interest in a topic. You can use the online catalog at your library to reserve books in your child’s name, even getting them delivered from neighboring libraries free of charge.

3. Play pretend while you read.

This is key to getting their attention and interest. Pretend play acting is a powerful preschool prereading activity. It is very important for young toddlers acquiring language skills. If you are reading the story of Little Red Riding Hood, become little Red Riding Hood. Let your child be the wolf who chases her. Go ahead and get up off the chair and get crazy for a minute. It is all a part of preschool prereading. By using expressions while you read and asking your children to act out the stories, you are creating a desire and focus. That will foster positive attitudes for years to come. They will want to read every night. My boys enjoy story time so much that they occasionally ask if it is bedtime yet.

4. Always point to words that you read aloud.

preschool prereading activities
Do preschool prereading activities at home to help your child become an early reader.

Make this a habit, even if your preschool child doesn’t seem to be paying attention. This is key to teaching your child that letters make words and words are used in sentences. This is a vital preschool prereading activity. It creates meaning that goes so much further than pictures do. If your child likes a word because it sounds or looks interesting, go ahead and repeat, spell, and sound-out the word (even if it is irregular). This will help your child to understand that letters have sounds and meanings. Don’t spend too much time trying to make sure your child ‘gets it’ and understands or retains the particular word that has caught his attention. At this point it doesn’t matter. You are just planting seeds. The key is to keep your child’s interest and attention, so you want to be moving at a light and lively pace. Keep it simple, and above all, keep it fun.

5. Invest in a few really good products that teach phonetic awareness.

My all time favorite company for emergent literacy is Leapfrog. We have invested in several of their products including Fridge phonics and Word Whammer.

6. Point out letters, numbers, and words on everyday things.

This is another great preschool prereading activity. It’s an important step toward teaching your child that words are important tools for getting information. So the next time your child asks for milk, show him the container and point to the word. Talk about it together. Pronounce the letters and then very slowly sound them out. If you have a very precocious comedian on your hands, you may find him asking for “M-M-M-M i-i-i-i-i-i l-l-l-l-l-K Pleeeeaase!” This is the goal of preschool prereading activities: when you’ve got them successfully reading and spelling on their own.

7. Join an organized preschool play group.

You can start with your public library. Many of them offer story time and various other preschool prereading activities for toddlers and young preschool aged children. Kindermusik and Musikgarten both offer a wide variety of programs that provide exposure to essential preschool prereading activities.

8. Read for your own enjoyment.

Set aside time during the day when your kids can see you reading for your own pleasure. They will naturally want to know what you are reading, and may even pretend to read right along with you.

9. Find and utilize good educational websites with your child.

A PBS television show that has my kids captivated is “Super Why”. The show teaches reading and phonics through fractured fairy tales that always teach a lesson about how we can be helpful toward others. No need to worry, the tales are rated “G” and have no “film noir” qualities. No one falls into boiling pots, no one dies. Also check out our Top 10 Educational and Fun Websites for Preschoolers. It’s a shameless plug, I know. But I’ve picked some nice free online websites that teach preschool prereading activities. I think you and your child will love them.

10. Finally, Sing as you go about the day.

Okay, you are probably saying, “What?!” Please stay with me on this one. Music is a powerful tool for building literacy. So use music to get your kids thinking about words, the rhythm of sounds, rhyming, and enunciation. Don’t worry about whether your windows are closed or if someone coming to the door. Yes, eventually someone will catch you being ridiculous. Just be ridiculous and get over it. Studies have shown that songs are powerful  preschool prereading activities. They teach more than you realize. Your preschooler will remember important letter-to-sound relationships, phonics rules, and rhyming patterns. Songs will increase a preschooler’s vocabulary, too. In 2002 Anvari, et al. published “Relations among musical skills, phonological processing, and early reading ability in preschool children” in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. These researchers discovered a very strong correlation between musical training and early reading skills among 4 and 5 year-old children:

“Music, like language, is based in the auditory modality and the primary mode of music production, singing, uses the same vocal apparatus as speech.
Both speech and music involve combining small numbers of elements (phonemes, notes) according to rules (referred to as grammars in music theory) that allow the generation of unlimited numbers of phrases or utterances that are meaningful” [Anvari, 112].

But never-mind all the convincing research available. Sing because it is so darn fun, especially when your kids join in on the madness. They will begin to sing their own nonsensical ballet. And as far as I’m concerned, these are the best preschool prereading activities a parent can ask for. It puts a capital “S” in silly!

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2 Comments on Preschool Prereading Activities That Make a Child an Early Reader

  1. While we didn’t have the benefit of your article five years ago, it’s interesting to read it now. My wife and I did almost all these things, and our oldest son, (currently 4 1/2) reads on a third grade level. Even so, I don’t believe he is exceptionally gifted, I just think we happened upon the right combination of activities to help him read early.

    Early on, our younger son (now 16 months) was much more interested in playing than looking at or listening to a book. For a while, we made the mistake of reading to both boys together. However, after separating them, and letting the toddler choose his own books, his attention span has increased significantly, and he now looks forward to reading time.

    While aware of the increasing pressure to compete academically, we’re not pushing our boys to be ahead of the curve, we just want them to be prepared when they get to school.

    Reggie Collier
    Valencia, CA

  2. That’s so nice of you sharing on what you knew!.. I believe it will be a big help for me and my daughter, age 4. It also develop mother daughter bonding. Thanks Caryn. Keep coming!

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