NEA Parents' Resources

Activities to Build a Foundation for Reading

Building a foundation of strong reading and writing skills doesn’t begin and end with a bedtime story. There are times throughout the day you can engage your child with words and stoke their imagination.

Getting Started

The first just requires a paper and pen. Teaching young students to recognize the letters of the alphabet is a big boost to their reading readiness. In fact, knowing the letters of the alphabet is one of the single strongest predictors of reading success for students entering school.

Once your child knows the letters of the alphabet, and while you still have that paper and pen, you can begin showing the connection between writing and reading.

Starting with your child’s name, you can teach them to write and show that the letters they’ve learned build words. They’ll also learn that words carry meaning—and what’s more meaningful to your child than their name?

Then you can move onto the names of family members, friends, some favorite words. You can work together to write short letters to loved ones.

Other Exciting Activities

There are plenty of other fun things you can engage in with your child both in and out of the home that further a foundation of reading and writing:

  • Label objects throughout the home, like “table,” “stove,” “door,” etc. You can post the labels, go through the words with your child, collect the labels, and hand them to your child to re label the objects. It’s an exercise that bridges written words, sounds and meanings into full concepts.
  • Signs with familiar words are great for practice. Have your child read them aloud as you walk or drive by.
  •  As you’re planning your agenda for the day, have your child write up a little schedule of the day’s events. This gives them practice writing and connecting words with concepts.
  • Play “I spy” and have your child describe things they can see from the car in a guessing game so they become used to describing objects with adjectives.

It doesn’t take a great, big library of children’s books to get your young student reading ready. Little, daily exercises can go a long way toward getting them familiar with words, building their vocabulary, and helping them connect words with meaning.

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