Getting Preschoolers to Read: Tips and Ideas!

By Andrea Coventry

When teaching a preschooler how to read, you'll want to make it entertaining to maintain their interest. Try teaching both phonics and sight words to develop a well-rounded reader. Reviewing these tips will help students learn faster.

Books Everywhere!

The best way to get a child interested in reading is to surround them with books and reading. Books should be available all over the child's environment (both at home and school) for individual exploration. Provide a variety of books, including poetry, nursery rhymes, fiction and nonfiction. The child should also have opportunities to observe adults reading.

Reading can occur through books, magazines and newspapers. In addition to books, provide magazines geared toward young children, and the kids' pages/sections of newspapers. Reading can also take place through audio books. Reading can also occur while watching TV or DVDs with the closed captioning enabled. In addition, music videos that have sing-along lyrics available are great sources to practice reading as well (as long as they are age-appropriate).

Any time a child shows an interest in a topic, find as many books on that topic as possible,to teach that books are both useful as well as entertaining.

Pre-reading Activities

Numerous pre-reading activities set a child on the road to reading. Teach them how to distinguish letters and words through matching and sorting activities. Categorization skills and attention to detail come from playing games, such as "Which one doesn't belong?", "Which one is different?", and "What is missing?" Practice opposites and analogies. Match parts to wholes. Puzzles also help a child with spatial awareness, which leads to reading skills.

Phonic Recognition

When first teaching phonics (which can be read in more depth in the next article in this series), focus on the letter sounds instead of their names, at first. Also focus on short vowel sounds in the beginning. Use a multi-sensory approach when teaching the sounds by tracing sandpaper letters, creating letters in paint, drawing them on an easel or chalkboard. Practice sounds with flashcards and by matching letters to objects or cards that begin with that sound. Label objects in the classroom with their beginning sound.

When the child is familiar with many sounds, he can start blending them together to form words. Begin with simple consonant-vowel-consonant (c-v-c) words. Blend them orally so that the child can try to figure them out. "What word is /b/-/a/-/t/?" The child can also try to separate the phonemes on their own, and locate the letters in some sort of moveable alphabet to spell them. The more the child practices, and the more they realize that they are spelling words, the more excited they will become to try to spell even more.

Sight Word Recognition

Dick and Jane Series Sight words, like phonics, are also important when learning to read. Numerous lists are available, including high-frequency words, sight words by level, and Dolch words.

When using phonetic readers, keep track of new sight words as they appear. Put them on flashcards to practice. Keep track of the collected words in a special high-frequency word notebook or on a key ring. Play sight word bingo, matching, and Go Fish games. Practice reading in special sight word series or by using the classic Dick and Jane books.

Environmental Print

Help the child learn how to read by labeling objects all around them. Ask which ones they would like to label, and allow them to do the labeling. Putting velcro or sticky-tack on the backs will allow for interchangeable labeling.

Teach the children how to locate words in a picture dictionary.

Use three-part matching or nomenclature to further teach vocabulary words. To make these, two sets of cards are required. The control set has a picture of the object on the top two-thirds of the card, with the word underneath. The second set is identical, except the word and picture cards are separated. The child matches the second set to the first set.

Use Writing to Teach Reading

Teach a connection between spoken words and words in print by having the child dictate stories. Write the story in a light-colored marker, then allow the child to trace over it.

Let the child make lists of words, such as making menus or grocery lists.

After the child spells words with the moveable alphabet, or learns a new sight word, he can practice copying them. Provide ample paper or a notebook for spontaneous copying of words from books. Some children also like to create their own little booklets. Find printable readers that the children can copy and color.

With these tips you will be off to a great start and your students will surely be successful readers in no time! Good luck! Don't forget to check out the rest of the articles in this series for more reading tips.