Reading, reciting and singing Mother Goose rhymes to our children might seem old-fashioned today, but it is an excellent way to help children get ready to read. Nursery rhymes are more than just short stories or songs; they are rhymed poetry with singsong melodic rhythms rhyming at the end of each line. This is one of the main reasons why children find them easy to recall.
‘Studies have shown that the more nursery rhymes a child knows, the easier it will be learning to read,’ said Matthew Brown, director of enrolment and early learning specialist, Childventures Early Learning Academy. ‘When children chant rhymes repeatedly, they develop pre-reading skills such as the ability to hear distinct sounds that make up words, discern sound and word patterns, and broaden their vocabulary. Through phonemic awareness, children develop skills preparing them to read.’
Cultivating a child’s willingness to express him or herself through language is essential for long-term social, emotional and intellectual development. According to a study done at the University of Washington, one-on-one baby talk with an infant can lead to better language skills. ‘You can never start reading with your child too early,’ said Brown. ‘Infants understand far more than we give them credit for because receptive language gets picked up long before expressive language. Babies emulating the exaggerated sounds from baby talk will build a solid foundation for language. The more we expose babies to language, the more they will keep using it.’
Setting the stage for reinforcing literacy skills can be interesting for children when turned into a fun activity. For Family Literacy Day on January 27, parents are encouraged to inspire literacy with these 10 tips from Childventures:
- Have your child create his or her own poems, stories or rhymes at home to emulate nursery rhymes
- Turn off technology and spend time drawing or printing letters
- Encourage your child to use drawing and writing attempts to express ideas and tell a story
- Use play-dough to mould and shape letters for hands-on three-dimensional practice
- Create a pretend menu with your child with pictures of food and practice writing and reading the food items
- Give your child window writer markers for a new and fun place to draw and write to keep his or her interest in writing efforts
- Start by teaching your child to print the first letter of his or her name. Once your child has a grasp on the first letter, encourage writing his or her name on all drawings and creations
- Show your child that words are everywhere and ask your child to try and read words on everyday items
- Remember that writing during preschool years is creative and messy
- Most importantly, read your child bedtime stories and nursery rhymes every night
During this Family Literacy Day, immerse your child in language and celebrate all drawing and writing attempts, and allow your child to develop a pleasurable and empowering association between reading and writing.