I have parents asking me all the time how they can create both a child-led learning environment but also still teach their children to read and write! Believe it or not, a child-led experience leads very nicely into the development of reading skills. Creating an environment where reading is a focus, a joy, and a part of everyday life is one of the most important ways to help your child boost their early literacy skills.
Here are some of my favorite ways to do this (watch the video or keep reading!):
1 – MODEL! Just like we model behaviors that we want our children to develop, we also should model a love of reading and writing, and show our children how we use these great skills in our everyday lives. Some ways to do this are obviously reading your own books for pleasure when your children are around (family reading time!?), writing grocery lists for you AND your child, reading street signs or maps out loud when you’re traveling around town, showing your child food labels in the grocery store, etc. Just like with language development, your child will learn these skills naturally as they start to make sense of how they fit into their everyday lives.
2 – USE REAL MATERIALS! Many parents remember to bring books into their child’s learning space, but it’s also important to incorporate writing materials and real-life print materials as well. This is true even if your child is a pre-reader/pre-writer! Give your child multiple opportunities to practice “writing” in their space with a variety of tools and surfaces. In addition, incorporate as many real print materials as you can into their play by upcycling things such as flyers and catalogs from the mail, empty cereal boxes, take-out menus, etc.
3 – CHOOSE BOOKS INTENTIONALLY! (I explain this in more detail in the video above) Make sure that you aren’t just mindlessly tossing books at your child and/or giving them an over-selection of too many books so that they don’t even know where to start or what to choose. Select books that are related to topics they’ve been interested in lately and display them in ways that are in reach and so that your child can see the cover of the book. Rotate these books frequently to keep things fresh and exciting!
I hope that gives you some insight into ways that you can boost early reading skills in very natural and meaningful ways.
If you want even more tips and in-depth learning about how to instill a love and learning for reading in your little one, make sure to check out my Create a Literacy Rich Learning Environment ecourse (scroll down to find the course on that page).