As we read and read with our little ones every night, we can't help thinking ahead to a time not long from now when they'll be able to decipher the words of One Fish, Two Fish or Go, Dog. Go! all by themselves.
How does this happen?
It's a complex process, all the experts tell us, with several important factors adding up to the magical moment when a young child begins to read:
1. An ear that is trained to discern the complex sounds that make up language. Talking, singing, reading and playing rhyme games with your child from the earliest days will provide this.
2. An awareness of the printed word. When we read aloud, it's actually important to show our avid little listeners that the story is coming from the text on the page rather than the pictures. We can reinforce this by pointing out words as we go along, both in the books we read and in other printed matter all around us.
3. Learning letter names and sounds. Much of this can be taught through alphabet books, magnetic letters on the fridge, and simply talking about letters and what words begin with which.
4. Familiarity with the way stories work. A big part of reading is being able to anticipate words, and figure out meaning from the context. The more you read and talk about stories with your children, the easier this becomes.
When these pieces come together, along with lots of practice, the wonder of reading "all by myself" begins!
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