Love for Learning
Why It Matters
Early childhood is one of the most enjoyable, yet critical times in your child’s life. Their development is moving at light speed as they build the foundation to become lifelong learners. In fact 90 percent of brain development happens in the first five years of life! As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. Research shows that children learn best through play and interactions with their primary caretakers. You can give your child a great start in school and life by helping them develop important literacy skills that will have them ready and eager to learn.
Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world. Helping your child learn literacy skills doesn’t need to be boring. In fact it’s all about having fun and creating a love for learning. Every day is filled with teachable moments that create a deep connection with your child and build their confidence as lifelong learners.
It's the Law
Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law requires children to be able to read by the third grade. Kids who are not able to master basic literacy skills fall behind and may never catch up as they struggle to make the switch from learning to read to reading to learn. They will often have lifelong challenges with reading. To change this, schools will identify children starting in kindergarten who are at risk and support their learning through Individualized Reading Improvement Plans (IRIP), but there will still be a strong need for parent support at home. You can assure they will be ready to learn by working with them on these important skills as early as possible, as suggested by Essential Literacy Practices.
Wonder, Explore, Imagine
Click the blue cards below to get literacy tips and tricks for your child!
Read aloud together for 15 minutes a dayReading together is not only an amazing way to connect with your child, it is also an opportunity to teach them how to read.
- Use your finger to point along the words as you read
- Talk about what letters look and sound like (“That is the letter ‘M’ like Mike’s name. It looks like two mountains! It sounds like “mmmmmm”. Have them repeat the sound.)
- Ask them where to start reading on a page
- Count words
- Point out words you see in pictures
Interact with your child while reading aloudHelp your children understand and learn from reading by asking questions and expanding on the book. Your child will learn to remember important points, how to retell stories and will build their vocabulary.
- Ask questions about what happened or what they think will happen next
- Ask what their feelings are about the book
- Explain what words mean
- Have them repeat or read a recurring word when you come to it
- Revisit words after reading through song, dance, or games. Challenge them to use the word in conversation.
- Teach words related to those in the story, like vocabulary related to the grocery store
Inspire children to interact with reading and writing through playKids love to pretend. Use this as an opportunity to expose them to print and writing during real life dramatic play by role-playing with props.
- Doctor’s office - waiting room reading materials, a schedule, note board and prescription pads
- Pizza parlor - order pads, menus, recipes, and placemats
- Post Office - envelopes, stationery, postcards, stamps, and actual mail for a post office
- Engineer/builder - traffic signs, maps, blueprints, and building-related books and toys such as Legos or cardboard blocks
- Use books that you can bring to life through puppets and other objects from the story
- Label where items go (use pictures for young children)
- Label things with your child’s name so they learn to recognize it
Play with soundsLanguage is made of sounds. More important than being able to recite the ABC’s is knowing how letters make sounds. This not only helps with language development and communication but is the cornerstone of reading.
- Read nursery rhymes or books that have similar sounds like Mother Goose, Dr. Seuss, Jamberry or Many Marvelous Monsters.
- Sing rhyming songs like “Down by the Bay,” “The Name Game,” or “Apples and Bananas”
- Sort pictures and objects by a sound or sounds in their names
- Play games like finding foods at the grocery store that start with a “B” like bananas, beans, and bacon
- Sound out words by their letter sound and see if your child can guess the word. (K-aaaa-t = cat)
Learn those ABC’sIt is recommended that children can name 18 upper case and 15 lower case letters by the end of pre-K, and we should teach letter-sound associations, rather than letter names or sounds alone.
- Use brief, clear, instruction. Letters make sounds. Sounds make words.
- Talk about letter names and the sound(s) associated with the letters
- Show your child how letters are shaped and formed
- Use tools like an alphabet chart
- Find keywords to associate with letter-sounds (d is for dog)
- Provide alphabet books with keywords
- Pick a letter of the day. Refer to it throughout the day (“That sign says stop. The first letter is s. It makes the 'sssssss' sound: sssssstop.”
Practice WritingFor children to learn how to write we need to provide opportunities to practice. Children start with scribbling and drawing. Then we build up to teaching letters and words. They will respond best to writing activities that are personally meaningful to them.
- Show your child how to write their name. Let them trace it.
- Let them tell you a story. Write it down and read it back to them.
- Count the words on a page or in a sentence together.
- Show them the word; then stretch out the word to listen for sounds (mmmm-ooooo-nnnn). Then see if they can identify the letters that represent those sounds, and show them how to write some of the letters.
- Encourage your child to write "words." Write a message together. You write a word on a line. Then have your child write a "word." This might be a scribble or something that looks like letters or a word. Have them tell you what their word is. Then read back the message you made together.
- Let them practice using child-safe scissors. This helps build the muscles in their hands which will also help them with writing.
Provide lots of reading materialOffer a wide range of books and other texts (print and digital), including information books, poetry, and story books accessible to children at home.
- Create a home library with your child’s favorite books and other materials around their interests
- Make books together
- Listen to recorded books
- Check out books at the library
- Make comfy places for them to look at and read books
Expose your child to many literacy opportunitiesHelp your child develop skills by providing a print-rich environment in the home, attend literacy events in the community, and practice them together. See our Kindergarten, Here I Come! booklet to learn what kindergarten expectations are and simple ways you can help prepare your child.
- Attend storytimes at your local school and libraries.
- Make everyday activities opportunities to expand their skills (cooking, talking with friends and family, travel, play).
- Visit places children can learn in your community, or take day trips to the zoo or a children’s or science museum. You can access the Michigan Activity Pass (MAP) program with your Michigan library card. The program provides FREE or discounted admission passes to hundreds of Michigan state parks, campgrounds, museums, trails, and arts & cultural destinations.
- Model good literacy practices like reading for pleasure or having your child "take notes" for you while create your shopping list. Children love to imitate their caregivers. You may even see them pretend reading before they can actually read!
- Turn off the TV, put down your smartphone and greatly limit the use of tablets and other electronic media. Not only are these distractions, which take away from quality time spent together, they often provide too much stimulation and affect your child’s ability to focus. While there are quality apps that can support learning, there is no substitute for hands-on learning while you participate in their play.