Label your home and build print awareness
Have you ever wondered why early childhood centres have so many labels? Yes, it’s often for organisation but it is also a fantastic way to expose young children to print.
Before your child can learn to read or write, they need to understand what print is all about. For our little ones, this means knowing the right way to hold a book, that books are read from front to back and that those squiggles on the page have meaning.
What can you do?
- Point to the words as you read from left to right
- Make comments about words you read and match these to pictures or the meaning of the story. For example, if the book features the word ‘bang’ in large letters, comment on this — look at this word, it says bang, that’s a loud noise, let’s see if we can make a loud bang
- Have books available for your children to ‘read’ on their own and learn how to hold the book and turn the pages
- Talk about what the words mean. You could read a sentence, pointing to the words and then talk about it with your child — Let’s read these words and see what they say?
- Talk about letters, words and sentences. Children need to understand that sentences are made up of words, words made up of letters and that letters can make different sounds
- Add labels around your house. Put them on the toy box, on the fridge and on drawers where different clothes belong. It will help with tidying up but also provides opportunities for children to see print in their everyday life. For little children, add pictures too to help them understand the label.
- Point out print when you see it — on signs, at the shops or at the service station. Talking about the first letter in words is a good place to start.
These activities will give your child a natural introduction to words and print.
Your child will become familiar with words attached to known objects and the repetition will help them recognise how different words and letters look. This is an important foundation skill needed before learning to read.