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Leap into Learning

Young children who know that reading is fun will be eager to learn.

Using pencils and crayons

Three and four year olds are interested and ready to draw and colour, and to begin to print letters and numbers.

  1. Have materials available:
    • pencils, pencil crayons, crayons
    • paper - scrap paper will do
    • a place to work - a little table at the kitchen counter
    • scissors and glue
    • an alphabet and numbers to copy - try an alphabet place mat or a wall chart

  2. Encourage your child to print, draw & colour, and practice drawing simple shapes - circle, triangle, square, rectangle.

  3. Encourage correct pencil grip.

  4. With practice, children can print their first name by the time they come to Kindergarten.

  5. Children love to copy adults. Let your child learn the value of writing by making cards, lists, family name cards, or writing little notes to relatives and family members.

  6. Displaying your child's work helps to develop confidence and pride.

Letter names and sounds

Research shows that children who start school knowing many letter names and their sounds, are likely to be successful readers. Parents and caregivers can help preschoolers to learn letters and sounds by:

  • reading alphabet books
  • singing the alphabet song
  • watching "Sesame Street" and "Between the Lions" together and talking about the focus letters, stories and activities
  • putting an alphabet wall chart in his/her room and talking about the letters together
  • helping your child to notice letters in the world around him/her - restaurant signs, license plates, road signs
  • teaching the letters in his/her name to start with and then moving on to the rest of the alphabet
  • playing with magnetic letters on the fridge
  • making an alphabet book with magazine pictures

Playing with sounds and words

Awareness of sounds in words and letters is very important in helping your child learn to read and write.

The following activities will help to increase your child's awareness of sounds:

  • reads lots of rhyme books and talk about the words that rhyme
  • sing and read nursery rhymes
  • help your child to memorize some favourite nursery rhymes
  • sometimes have your child finish off parts of a rhyme such as "Little Miss Muffet, sat on a ...."
  • playing rhyming games - like words which rhyme with names, food, animals (nonsense words are fine)
  • play I Spy - something that starts with this sound or something that rhymes with...
  • riddles like - I am an animal that rhymes with hat

Reading with your child

Stories, poems, songs and rhymes all help children to understand themselves and their world better.

Parents' attitudes to books

If children see adults enjoying reading, they are more likely to see books as enjoyable and useful.

Benefits of reading together

Sharing books with children is an excellent way to help develop powers of understanding, speech, listening, concentration and observation. All these are important in the process of learning to read.

  • read and re-read from a variety of books every day
  • get books from the library and garage sales, or trade books with friends
  • give books for gifts
  • choose some books which you like and some which will appeal to your child's interests


When choosing books to read each day, keep in mind that variety is best - just like choices in food. Here are a few suggestions:

Alphabet books Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Dinosaur ABC, Icky Bug Alphabet
Word Books Richard Scarry, Sesame Street
Nursery Rhymes any variety
Folk and Fairy Tales traditional and modern - like Robert Munsch
Story Books the sky is the limit - ask your librarian for suggestions
Fact and Concept Books "I witness Junior" books, books about animals, transport, the world around us, books of colours, shapes, numbers, opposites
Poetry Random House Book of Poetry for Children, books by Dennis Lee, Shel Silverstein
Magazines e.g. "Sesame Street", "Chirp", "Ladybug", "Turtle", "Your Big Backyard"

– Marie Goody and Helen Middleditch, South Nelson Elementary

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