Do you say silly rhymes with your children or play I Spy with My Little Eye? Is reading a bedtime story part of your family’s getting ready for bed routine? Those familiar habits are ways to combine play and literacy. Rhymes, repetition, and even singing the songs you know or are listening to on the radio help develop a good foundation for literacy. Reading with your children develops vocabulary, listening skills, comprehension and understanding, and the ability to connect sounds and words.
Drawing and writing are also ways to encourage fine motor skill development and good handwriting later in childhood. Help your children learn to draw and write by handing them pencils, crayons, markers, and even chalk to write on the sidewalk. Blocks or magnets with letters can provide the opportunity for your child to learn the alphabet and even how to spell their name and other familiar words.
Older children will also benefit from talking, finding rhyming words, telling stories, and making plans. Read to them, and take turns reading with them. Help them make an alphabet book or write their own story. Use your time in the car or in the grocery store to pick out words and letters that are familiar or those that are new. Even the littlest children recognize the golden arches and the Chick Fil-A sign.
These activities only take a few minutes, and it is never too early to start playing with your child with words, sounds, rhymes and stories. The foundation that you build by telling your babies and your children stories and encouraging their own story telling will pay off tenfold as they begin to converse and read on their own.