Apr 16, 2011
Reading tools and tips for the pre-school set
Working on Phonics and letter sounds:
One of the best free reading sites on the web is http://www.starfall.com/ the phonics games are fun for kids and encourage lots of repetition. The site goes from basic phonics for pre-schoolers and kindergartners to easy stories. It is interactive and I've yet to see a kid that didn't like the site.
After your kids have learned their letters and sounds they need to work on memorizing their basic sight words (words that occur frequently in text). Start with a small group (A, And , The) and work on more when they have mastered the first set. There is a website with flash cards. Once they learn a few of these words they will be able to combine the pictures on the page and start to "read."
Now that your child knows a few sight words you need to get them some leveled books, these are books that are written for a certain reading level. I got my first few sets from the Scholastic catalogs that are distributed on the school market. The set on the left is similar to the books that I used and Amazon has a large selection. I also used http://www.readinga-z.com/ which is not free (although it does have free samples) but you can print out as many books as you want and kids often get through these little readers fast. There is also a phonics program on the site that I used. The only problem with that website is it's used in many schools so your child may repeat books that they've already read when they start school.
What I did when my daughter was little was to keep these books in her room, we didn't work on them really at all but they were in her room and she flipped through them. She figured out on her own that she could read them with just a little help and was SO proud of herself.
Read alouds and audio books
These should always be more difficult than what your child can do themselves epically at the early levels. Audio books that you can find in the scholastic catalog or the library are fantastic. Your child can put in a CD and follow along turning the page with the directions on the CD's. Once they start simple reading then it's time to look for more difficult audio books so they can learn to follow stories that don't have pictures.
I've found that if you put your child to bed half an hour before they're actually tired it gives them lots of time to read. I also did the same thing with naps when my daughter was four. She had quiet time in the afternoon where she could sleep if she wanted or she could read or listen to an audio book while I read in my room.
When you've started reading your child simple chapter books you can tape yourself while you are reading to your child (there's a record feature on most ipods or you can use a headset attached to your computer) and then you have a free audio book that they can listen to over and over again.
Don't worry about writing
If you've got a young reader don't worry about writing, they do need to learn their letters and such but this should not be anything you worry or stress about, their little hand muscles need to mature before they're going to be able to write.
Kids need to learn to enjoy reading and if they're not ready and they are little they shouldn't be pushed. Not every child is ready at the same age. Kids need to be read to and they need to see reading as a normal part of daily life and not as a chore and parents need to find books that have stories that will interest their specific child. It is not expected or necessary for kids to read when they enter Kindergarten. They just need basic literacy skills such as being able to follow a simple picture book and knowing their letters and most of the sounds.