Almost everything young children do in the preschool and kindergarten years supports their emerging language and literacy skills. When children have access to reading and writing materials at home and at their child care , they will incorporate literacy in their play.
Many young children explore literacy play on their own, with little need for encouragement from adults. Other children need the one-on-one attention of a tutor to help them make literacy discoveries such as: print is talk written down, reading books is fun and interesting, and printed words carry messages to the reader.
Below are some tutoring strategies for working with children in preschool and kindergarten. They include:
Talking with children
Writing with children
These strategies may also be appropriate for older children in an earlier phase of literacy development.
One of the best ways to encourage emerging literacy is to read aloud with a child as often as possible. If you work with a child in a preschool or kindergarten, spend at least part of each session reading aloud.
Read-aloud sessions involve much more than saying words and turning pages. When you express your own excitement about the pictures, story, setting, and characters, the child will be excited too. With your guidance, the child can learn to take meaning from the words and expand his or her understanding and enjoyment of the story.
Looking for the details in the pictures, talking about what might happen next, and discussing how the story relates to the child’s real-life experiences are important parts of read-aloud sessions.
The following six-point checklist summarizes the key strategies used to read aloud to young children.
- Choose a book
Look for a book that:
You will enjoy reading.
Supports and builds on the child’s interests and experiences.
Has beautiful pictures.
Is slightly above the child’s current vocabulary level.
Introduces a new style such as poetry or a folk tale.
Invite the child to choose books she would like to read.
Repeat familiar, well-loved books often.
- Get to know the book
Examine the illustrations so you can point out the information and clues in the pictures.
Read the story to yourself.
Plan ways to vary your voice (tone, volume, pauses) to fit the plot and characters.
Collect dress-up clothes, puppets, or other props related to the story.
- Set the stage for success
Help the child get ready to listen.
Make sure the child is comfortable and can see the book.
Make sure you are comfortable.
- Before starting the story
Introduce the author and/or illustrator.
Talk about other books you’ve read by the same author and/or illustrator.
Show the cover and point out details in the illustration.
Read the title aloud.
Talk about what type of book it is – true, make-believe, folk tale, realistic.
Describe where and when the story takes place.
Introduce the setting and the main characters.
Suggest things to look and listen for in the story.
Show a few pages and ask: What do you think will happen in this book?
- While reading the story
Vary your voice to fit the characters and the plot.
Stop frequently to:
Add information that will help the child understand what’s happening.
Rephrase something that might be confusing.
Explain the meaning of a new word.
Invite the child to predict what might happen next.
Ask the child about the story and characters.
Show the pictures and describe what’s happening.
Share your own reactions to the story and characters.