If you're the parent of a soon-to-be-kindergarten student, you might feel a bit panicked when you see the list of reading goals expected of her once she beings school. Fear not -- reading readiness can be taught through a variety of natural, unforced activities that are easily incorporated into your daily routine.
Part of prepping a child to read is helping him understand that text flows from left to right and top to bottom. Whenever you read to your child, point to the words so that he begins to conceptualize this direction.
Before any child can read, she'll obviously have to learn her letters. Start with the good, old-fashioned alphabet song to help her memorize the names and orders of letters. To help with recognition of letters, provide many opportunities throughout your house for her to see and practice naming letters. Display alphabet cards with pictures in her bedroom, keep a set of alphabet magnets for the fridge and purchase an alphabet puzzle to put together. Make sure to work on lowercase letters before uppercase, since it's not often your child will read words entirely comprised of capital letters.
Teach the sounds of letters to your child in an informal way -- he'll be much more receptive if he doesn't feel pressured and on the spot. As you drive, ask your child to come up with some things that have an "m" sound. Use the things you pass by to help inspire you, asking him questions such as "Does m-m-mountain start with an 'm' sound?" or "What sound does 'p-p-park' start with?" Be very obvious with your questions so that your child has a chance to answer correctly and be successful.
Children often use pictures as a reading cue. As you read to your child, ask her about the pictures before reading the text. Point to the word that matches the picture so she begins to associate pictures and words with one another.
Print Has a Message
Part of learning to read and learning to love to read is understanding that print carries a message. Let your child be the author to show him how words can become text. Have him dictate a story to you, and then have him illustrate the book with his own pictures.