April is Poetry Month! What do you get when you combine a monthly dose of poetry with daily word play? A well-prepared early reader.
Word play is a really fun way to train your preschooler for learning-to-read. The training requires no special equipment. Instead, it takes fun, intention and frequency so that the wiring so crucial for connecting sounds to letters begins to form in childrens’ brains. Connecting sounds to letters is the basis of learning to read and spell. And, April being poetry month is the perfect time to begin.
Why is word play so powerful? Because like poetry, word play reinforces the parts and patterns of words as well as the rhythm of language. Later, your child will draw upon this essential word-sound knowledge to learn to read and spell.
The best thing about word play is that you can play anywhere, any time — at home, at the kitchen table, in the bath tub, in the car, on the bus, even at the super market. So let the word play begin.
Three to four-year-old children may not yet be able to rhyme on their own, but they can often detect when a sound sounds alike, and when it does not. (i.e., “Does Mummy sound like tummy?” Yes. “Does Mummy sound like ball?” No. ).
Rhyming is a way that children begin to organize important information about the sounds in their first, and for some second, language.
- Give your child two words and ask them if they sound alike.
- Read lots of poetry and sing rhyming songs to help your child learn to detect and produce rhymes.
- Reinforce your child as they begin to generate their own rhymes.
- Once your child has mastered rhyming, reverse roles and ask your child to test your rhyming ability.
Check the Mass Literacy blog for more word games coming soon.
Jean Ciborowski Fahey, PhD is a 2014 Mass Literacy Champion. She is the author of Make Time for Reading: A Story Guide for Parents of Babies and Young Children. Learn more about Jean here.