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Tips on Teaching Kindergarten and Preschool Kids to Read

by R. Renée Bembry

Teaching preschoolers to read and enjoy books opens new worlds, both real and fantasy, for young readers. From Dr. Seuss’s “Foot Book” to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, nothing beats the ability to delve into a story that stirs the imagination and allows you to dream. Whereas reading to children from infant-hood spurs their fascination with books, their appreciation for words on pages leaps to new levels once they learn to decipher words, sentences, and paragraphs on their own. This is why knowing how to teach preschoolers to read is a great asset for parents and educators.


According to a Commission on Reading 1985 review, reading to children is the “single most important activity” necessary for nurturing successful readers. Many parents who read to their children, however, wait for children to go to school so that teachers can move them on to the next level, which is reading on their own. The irony is that stay at home parents who spend many hours with their preschoolers are in perfect positions to teach them to read before they even know what school is. Doing so gives preschoolers great educational advantages from the moment they first step into a classroom.


As a person who has successfully used methods herein to teach preschoolers how to read preschool books, kindergarten books, and first grade books before they ever attended school, the author offers these preschool teaching tools.


Teach Preschoolers to Recognize Letters of the Alphabet


When preparing to launch your preschooler through his or her first book and the many books that will follow, it is a good idea to make certain the child can recite “and” recognize the letters of the alphabet. While assisting teachers in kindergarten classrooms, the author discovered that many children who easily recite the alphabet while singing the ABC song cannot look at letters and instantly relate the song names to the actual characters.


Teaching children to recognize letters comes easily when you:


  • Include alphabet books in your daily reading. Encourage preschoolers to follow your lead as you place your pointer finger on letters in books and verbalize letters at which you are pointing. Do this for each letter on each page of every alphabet book you read together.

  • Alphabet books usually have pictures of objects or people that correspond with individual letters on the pages. Point out and explain relationships of corresponding letters to pictures as you go through books. Encourage preschoolers to verbalize pictures with their corresponding letters.

  • Place magnetic alphabet letters on your refrigerator so you and your preschooler can recite the letters while you cook or clean the kitchen. Position the letters low on the fridge so children have easy access and can interact with the letters at any time.

  • Point out letters when venturing away from home and even when driving down the street. The fact that words are abundant in so many places makes teaching alphabet recognition even easier for parents and caregivers.

  • Once children can fluently recite letters on their own, move on to encouraging them to “sound out” the letters, and in fact, if you incorporate sounding out with learning letter sounds, preschoolers will likely learn sounding out phonics even sooner.


Make Learning to Read Fun


Although teaching preschoolers to read is serious business you can simplify the process by making it “fun”; and in fact, the fun aspect should be thoroughly considered when choosing books for up and coming readers. Selecting books with themes and characters that interest children as individuals provides incentive for them to learn words on pages. In furtherance, let preschoolers select books they like when buying books and when checking out books from libraries.


Examine Books before Settling on them


Another thing to do when choosing books for preschoolers is flip through the books before settling on them. The reason for flipping through the books in advance is to make sure they have reasonable numbers of pages depicting short simple sentences, easy to read paragraphs, and photos or drawings that help tell stories.


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