Building blocks for school success.
Here are six things every child should know before starting school — and simple ways to teach them!
1. Words, words, and more words!
- Read to your child as often as you can. They will learn more words from books than from TV and videos.
- Ask your child questions about the story while you read together. Let your child point to words they know.
2. How books work
- Show your child that words read from left to right.
- Show them that each page goes from the top to the bottom, and from the left to the right.
- Show them how to hold a book, and encourage them to turn the pages.
3. What letters are
- Read alphabet books (“A is for apple, B is for boy…“) with your child.
- Use magnetic letters, alphabet puzzles, and other activities to teach the alphabet.
- Look at letters everywhere! Help your child point out letters on signs or labels.
- Teach your child to write their name and other simple words with a marker or using a computer or magnet letters.
- Make letters out of anything! Shape aluminum foil into letters or trace letters in a pan of flour.
4. Sounds of letters and words
- Make a letter sound and ask your child to repeat it.
- Point out a letter and ask your child to make the sound (or sounds) of that letter. Help them learn that some letters have more than one sound.
- Show that words are made up of smaller sounds. Sound out large words as you read them out loud.
- Point out words that rhyme.
- Play word games.
- Sing together!
5. How to tell a story
- Share books with just pictures (no words) and ask your child what they see in the pictures.
- Ask questions that need more than a “yes“ or “no” answer.
- Read a story together then ask your child to tell the story back to you.
- Ask your child to tell you about their day.
6. Reading is exciting!
- Make sharing a book a fun part of every day.
- Give books as presents.
- Take your child to the library.
- Have books, pictures, children‘s magazines, and lots of things to talk about in your home.
- Set a good example. Let your child see you reading your own books and enjoying it!
This information was compiled as part of the library's 2005 Every Child a Reader initiative, supported by a $158,625 grant. Funding for this grant was awarded by the Illinois State Library (ISL), a Division of the Office of Secretary of State, using funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), under the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).