Hi All! I’m Tammy and Stef’s older sister, Melanie and I’m so excited to be a guest on their blog today. I am a stay at home mom with two kids, ages 3 and 1. Before I became a mom, I spent 9 years teaching elementary school as a 4th grade and Kindergarten teacher. I have a Masters of Education degree with an emphasis in Literacy and I’m excited to share some of my knowledge with you today!
My oldest just turned three and I’ve been thinking a lot about the academic skills she needs before she goes to school in a couple of years. Some of the answers to that question are so easy: she should know most of the sounds and names for the letters of the alphabet, she should be able to count to at least 10, and she should know her colors and most of her shapes. I took a minute to think about what other not so obvious skills she needs to know.
In the professional reading world, there is a term thrown around a lot for pre-readers called Concepts of Print. Concepts of print are referred to as the building blocks of all reading. As I describe these concepts, they may seem obvious, but I would bet most of you have not thought about explicitly teaching them to your children. Most kids catch on to concepts of print just by observing, but it is always nice as a parent to know how I can be helping my child. The best part about teaching these concepts is they can all be done as you read daily to your child.
The first concept is book orientation knowledge:
Does your child hold the book right side up?
Can they identify the front and back of the book?
Ask your child to, “Open the book to where the story begins.”
The second concept is that print, not pictures, hold the meaning to the story, and every book has an author and illustrator.
Ask your child to point to the picture, and then ask them to point to the words. Discuss what they think might be happening in the story by just looking at the picture. Now read the words. Talk to your child about how much more meaning could be found by reading the words than just looking at the pictures.
The next concept is that your child understands the directional principles of reading. They know you read from left to right and top to bottom and making the “return sweep” when moving from line to line.
The tip Kelly gave in her blog post is perfect for teaching this concept. As you read to your child, follow along with your finger. They will quickly grasp the direction of reading. This concept will also come quickly as your child is learning to write. When they are in the early stages of writing, use stickers at the top, left hand corner of papers to help your children remember where to start writing.
Page Sequencing is the next concept of print. When you are finished reading a page, where do you go next?
Every now and then as you are reading and following along with your finger, stop at the end of the page and ask your child where you go next? Act like you forgot and need their help, they’ll love to play along.
One of the most important concepts of print is that your child knows the difference between a letter and a word and also being able to track the words as you are reading.
After you have begun teaching the alphabet to your child, stop as you are reading and ask them if they know any letters on the page. Take time to discuss that words are made up of letters pushed together. My favorite time to teach this concept is when I’m teaching my children the letters in their names. These letters will soon become some of their favorites. Soon before starting Kindergarten or early on that year, your child should be able to point to each word as you read a line and match the word to the text you read.
This last concept of print is developing an understanding of simple punctuation marks.
This concept of print is the last one that comes to kids and is sometimes not completely understood until way into their kindergarten year. You want your child to know what a period, question mark, exclamation mark and quotations are and why we use them.
As I end, I want to share one of our favorite books with you. We love The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. My three year old loves to act out the book using play food and it moves just fast enough to keep my 18 month old engaged and giggling. It’s a definite must read for babies and toddlers!