This is the second part to our Child Verbal Development series. If you just got to this post, it is recommended you read series first of child verbal development first and then proceed to this one.
Children can be made aware of words and their connections to symbols, sounds, and meaning in our lives. Some beginnings of this awareness are as simple as recognizing environmental print—street signs, lavatory signs, exit signs—how they are pronounced and what they mean. Many children have a favorite book series. You can take time while you are reading to point out words that appear frequently, like “Mama,” “Papa,” “Brother,” and “Sister.” The words are repeated in every book in the series. After pointing out to your child the connection between how the written words look and how they are pronounced, as you read aloud you may choose to stop at these words. You can even invite your child to sight read the familiar word.
Encourage any efforts your child makes to read words, always keeping in mind that the reading time needs to be a good experience. If your child prefers you not take breaks from the flow of the reading to say a word, by all means do not do it. Tell your child to let you know if he/she wants to read any of the words. Try not to allow any anxiety to creep into reading time. You want to keep it a positive experience. Children need to feel good about themselves as readers, and that will begin with feeling good about the reading time you spend together.
Activity – Rug Games: In this activity your child will explore an association between letters and their sounds. Sequencing of ABCs, letter recognition, and visual and auditory discrimination of different letters are involved in this activity. Your child will explore letter sounds and will use large muscles while moving from letter to letter. Handling and placing the buttons involves finger dexterity.
To begin the activity, obtain a white or cream colored canvas painter’s drop cloth, pencil, some fabric paint, and decorative buttons. To prepare the ABC rug, clear a large flat surface, preferably the portico or basement. Follow the fabric paint instructions to prepare the drop cloth for painting. Iron the drop cloth flat and spread it out on your work floor. If your child is currently working with only uppercase letters, then print those in random arrangement in pencil all over the drop cloth. If your child is working with capitals and lowercase, then print both (Aa, Bb). Starting in the center of the cloth and, working out toward the edges, paint over the letters using the fabric paint. As you finish a letter, involve your child by demonstrating how to place the buttons in the wet paint for added fun. After the paint has dried, you and your child can sing the ABC song or recite the ABCs as you discover where to find the letter that is spoken or sung. Together, make up games that can be played on the ABC rug.
An ABC game you and your child might like to try involves letters and their sounds. You can begin by jumping onto one letter at a time and making its sound. When ready, change the game a little bit. One of you can call out the sound from the sidelines and the ‘player’ has to locate the letter that the sound indicates. Take turns with calling out and locating the letters. You can collect small objects or pictures of objects and then match the object with the corresponding letter with which the word begins. For example, place an apple on ‘A’ and encourage your child to say the word “apple.” Help your child to identify the beginning sound in the word. Place a bucket on ‘B’, a cookie on ‘C’, and so on.
Developing Reading Preferences: It is good for children to develop preferences in what they read. Whatever books are preferred, go ahead and support the interest. You may choose to purchase some of the books in the preferred series for your home library. The next time the two of you visit the library or a bookstore, you can search for additional titles. All of these things will contribute to a strong base for your child’s love of reading, and you can support this development.
Labels: As your child is beginning to notice letters, their sounds, and words in his/her environment, you may want to place labels on some common things present in your household. Name signs on the bedroom doors, over an individual’s coat hooks, and even on the kitchen chairs can encourage your child to read. Your child will be getting practice in associating letters and sounds with words. This type of reading will also encourage some word recognition. In addition to hanging labels, you may want to post a paper listing your child’s responsibilities. Some children are required to perform a few tasks each day to help out the family. You can write down these family service jobs, and your child can read them and keep track of having performed them on a daily basis.
Multi-Sensory Alphabet: Make available to your child the alphabet in a number of different forms: rubber, wood, fabric, plastic magnets. The different composition puzzles will appeal to your child’s sense of feel. A couple of different alphabet sets mixed together can make for an enjoyable game of guessing the letter by feel while being blindfolded. If it is possible to provide more than one ABC puzzle, you can set the puzzles in different rooms of your home. By doing this, a puzzle will be ready to play with wherever your child spends time—perhaps in the living room, basement, playroom, or bedroom.
Rhyming: It is always fun to play rhyming games with your youngster. You can pick the word with which to begin. Invite your child to think of as many rhyming words as she/he can. Do not be surprised if she/he makes up a few new words! This is great practice for working with sounds and sound combinations. You can also write down the rhyming families (for instance: game, name, fame, lame, dame, came, tame) as they are spoken, listing them in columns so the similarities in spelling are illustrated. Place the lists in a place where your child can retrieve them for later review or sharing with a friend.
Make the recitation of rhymes fun with your child. While driving or spending time together, begin with the first line of a rhyme. When you say the next line, leave out the last word. Encourage your child to fill in the gap. Keep on with the game, leaving out more words. Try playing it so that each of you alternates a word throughout the whole rhyme. Matching Initial Sounds of Words: The two of you can explore sounds together. While taking a walk or eating lunch, rattle off all the words you can think of that begin with the “ch”sound, such as church, children, choo-choo. Most likely your child will jump right in and offer a few suggestions.
Sometimes, children enjoy making up words to add to a group. Next, invite your child to help you think of and say as many words as possible that begin with the “sh” sound. Encourage your child to think of a sound to start the game. Try to never miss an opportunity to point out a letter (such as ‘t’) or combination of letters (such as ‘th’) and how it is pronounced. Do this while reading the comics aloud to your child, while reading a book, or while reading his/her name and print on signs, buildings, or anywhere else.
Reading Out Loud: When you read the newspaper in the morning, try to read at least a portion of it out loud so your child can see and hear you using your reading skills. During a typical day much of the print that is read (often silently) by a parent could be read aloud for a child’s benefit. How about saying the words aloud while reading the mail, coupons, magazines, clothing and price tags, recipes, television program guides, letters, and words on watercolor markers and crayons. Try not to miss an opportunity to help your child discover the value of print.
Letters on Television: Since many families do spend some time in front of the television, that time can be used constructively when learning about letters of the alphabet. Sit down with your child during a program and keep a notepad and pencil handy. Encourage your child to look for letters on the screen, and you (or your child) can write them down and identify them as they appear.