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Off to a Good Start –
Practicing Early Reading and Writing Skills at Home

  1. Read early; read often. Read to your child and with your child from a very young age. For variety, as he/she is learning to read:
    • take turns on pages or lines
    • read the page together and then, when he/she is able, have your child read it over alone.
    • stop as you read and have your child guess what is going to happen next.
    • stop in the middle of a sentence and have your child guess the next word.
    • have your child spot certain words or letters on a page.

  2. Play, "I Spy", asking your child to find things that start with certain letters or letter sounds.

  3. Use a scrapbook or empty notebook and put a letter on each page. Have your child find pictures in magazines and catalogues that start with a certain letter; then help your child cut them out and glue them on the page for that letter.

  4. Chant rhyming words with your child. Start out with two or three that rhyme and see if your child can add more.

  5. As you child becomes interested in writing and reading, write short notes, read them to him/her if needed, and have him/her try to write back. Encourage and support your child's efforts without correcting too much at the beginning.

  6. Write letters of the alphabet on recipe cards, with the capital and small letter printed side by side. Use them as flashcards to help your child learn the name and sound for each letter. Also, have your child try to put the letters in alphabetical order, making a long "train" with them on the floor.

  7. Play "Hangman" or other word guessing games. This works particularly well if you are waiting (for food to arrive in a restaurant, for a doctor's appointment, etc.). It will hold your child's attention and help the time pass more quickly.

  8. Keep a family memory book with your child. Use a big scrapbook and put special photos, mementos, letters, etc. in it. At the early stages, your child can dictate to you and you can print the message for them. Later, your child will be able to print his or her own short entries.

  9. Join a public library and make family visits to the library a regular event. Having your child choose books to sign out and see you signing books out will help reinforce a positive attitude towards reading.

  10. When you are teaching your child to print his/her name, use a capital letter only on the first letter. Then your child won't have to re-learn it when he/she goes to school. Having children trace the letters and reminding them to start each printed letter at the top will also be a big help. If they are having difficulty gripping the pencil, try using a tri-cornered pencil grip (available at office supply stores and many toy stores) to ensure that they develop a good grip for printing.

  11. Using puzzles, playdough, beads, pegboards and other activities that exercise the small muscles and the mind will help prepare your child for school expectations in such areas as printing, copying and thinking through a series of steps.

  12. Practicing letters can be done in many other ways than simply with a paper and pencil. Your child can make letters with playdough, paint, felt pens, hand shapes, pipe cleaners, pasta, etc.

  13. Write big letters with a felt pen on an old plastic drop-sheet or oilcloth. Put the sheet on the floor and have your child jump on the letter that you call out. Print the capital and small letters together. This can also be done with numbers.

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