Your “baby” is starting kindergarten this Fall. You have given them all the tools they need to succeed in their initial educational journey; they know their alphabets, they can count from one to ten, they can also spell and write their name. It’s been difficult, but you have done great! What are some other activities that can give your child the head start they need during this time? According to Dr. Deborah Stipek, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education at Stanford University and Kathy Seal, a journalist and author; “reading to your child before they enter school is one of the best predictors of how well they will read as they attend school.” In their book “Motivated Minds”, they give parents tips on promoting literacy skills. They are as follows:
- “After you read a page, talk about the picture: “Have you ever seen a real rabbit knitting?” “What do you see coming out the chimney?” “How many hats do you think George will put on his head?” “Oh, doesn’t that gingerbread look delicious?”
- Read the name of the author and illustrator of the book. Look for a picture of the author and read the dedication. This way your young child will understand that people create books and will start to recognize favorite authors.
- Stop in the middle of the story and ask your child to predict what will happen next. “What do you think the Lost Boys will do now?”
- At the end of the story ask questions like “Why did George want to leave home?” “Why did the man always wear a yellow hat?”
- Link the story to your child’s own experiences: “Do you think Johnny feels the way you did when Rover disappeared for two days?”
- If a character in the story has the same name as your child (or a brother, friend, or cousin), point to it. “Look, his name is Charlie, just like you, and he writes it just like you write your name.”
- As your child begins to show an interest in letters, from time to time point out words that start with the same first letter as his name: “Look, Maggie starts with an M, just like the M in your name, Mandy.” Little by little, point out more letters, or ask your child, “Do you know what letter that is? It’s a D, the same letter “Daddy” starts with.
But don’t overdo it. Too much “teaching” will interrupt the flow and turn a story into a mindless phonics lesson. If your child is really interested, play a game out of finding all the Bs” when the story is over. If she gets distracted after the fourth B, drop the game and find something else interesting to do” (53).