Reading and Writing: How to Teach your Child at an Early Age
Start with Repeated Practice of Familiar Words
In contrast to rote memorization, the perceptual model of teaching makes it easier for children to learn writing. Do not teach your child the alphabets right away, instead, teach them by repeating familiar words such as "Car" or "Elephant." Furthermore, language learning does not proceed along the stages of listening, speaking, reading, writing. But actually involves stimulation from multiple domains at once. Making a child sit down and mindlessly drill reading and writing will not only yield very few results, it will actually inhibit the learning process altogether.
The first thing you should do is find a way to get your child interested in written language. Start with things that your child enjoys to get them gradually familiarized with written words. Examples are "Rabbit", "Phone", "Mama", "Dada", "Milk", and so on. When your child pays attention to written words and will stare at them intently, repeat the names of objects to him/her while familiarizing him/her to the shapes of the objects. This way, working from one or two words to ten words, and then combining these words into phrases, you will spur the growth of your child's vocabulary.
Having Fun Writing while Learning
Your child should enjoy this new world of the written word, so do all you can to introduce it in a gentle manner. Some mothers, indulge in wishful thinking, will pressure and scold their children to learn. On the other hand, if learning to read and write becomes a game much like the other fun and exciting games played with Mom, written language will take root in your child's mind with very little effort.
For example, the plastic foods used while playing a shopping game could be replaced with labeled pictures. Try to incorporate written language into your child's playtime naturally to make them more interested and familiar with it.
Speak to Your Child More Often
Children who are good at speaking (or talking) may not pay much attention to written language. This is because they have not completed the first stage of recognizing words – recognizing things. Therefore, compared to children who can speak well, children who pay attention to things around them will pay close attention to the written versions of those thing’s names. You should tell your child stories all the time to draw their attention to objects. This is very important.
Start with Their Interests
The first thing most children learn how to write is their name. At ages 2-3, when children want to do things themselves and have begun forming a sense of autonomy, they will spend a lot of time repetitively writing down their own name when first learning how to write. That is because they are concerned with themselves.
If you see your child paying attention to things in their life, you can label things that they like or pictures of those things with the written form of their names. They are brimming with curiosity. If your child likes apples, put a picture of an apple and a label on the fridge and ask your child "Where's the apple?" Your child is likely to enjoy this matching game.
Paste Labels around the House
Aside from pictures and names, you can increase your child's interest in written words by also putting up labels in appropriate places that contain words your child uses often or everyday activities. Put up labels that say "Please Come Again" and "Welcome Home" near your home's entrance way, and "Don't Use too Much Toothpaste" and "Wash Your Hands, Brush Your Teeth" in the bathroom. Although your child still can't read, your child will still look curiously at these labels. It's best if you change the labels every 1-2 weeks and explain what you have written to your child.
Teaching Literacy – Month by Month
Explain What's Happening
You should talk to your child all the time as soon as possible. It's important to talk to your child even before they are born. After your child comes into the world, he/she immediately begins receiving various stimuli from the environment. When nursing, changing diapers or bathing, you should always talk to your child.
As you change your child's diapers, shake their hands and feet gently saying "These are your hands, such pretty hands!" Repeat this phrase clearly and precisely. Or, pick up a doll or ball and show it to your baby then say "This is your dolly friend, this cute doll is your good friend". You should also be sure to frequently talk to your child while holding him/her, giving a rolling commentary of the day's events. This allows your child to use your words in order to interact with and experience the world.
Hang up Big Pictures or Photographs
Decorate your child's field of vision with all kinds of pretty, colorful pictures, and set up the area around your child mindfully. Magazine insets or photos are great visual stimuli.
Compared to monochrome pictures, using intense colors or pictures made from contrasting colors are good choices.
Change out new pictures when your child has grown bored of what you have hung up. The feelings and experiences that your child feels upon looking at these pictures will leave traces in his/her memory.
It will gradually leave a lasting impression in their minds. All of these impressions and memories will come flooding back to your child when you link the pictures to written words for them.
Hang up Name Tags, Play the Cuckoo Game
Pick about 10 items from around the house. Create and paste labels with the object’s names onto them. Show the name tags to your child and say "This is a phone, cuckoo!" Nod your head as you say this. Your child will be delighted. Next say "Wardrobe, cuckoo!", "Gloves, cuckoo!"
This game teaches your child written words without the feeling of being taught. Even those children who don't learn from it will still have a bit of fun with the game itself. Continue playing this game for a month. At some point, you can ask "Ding-dong, where's the phone?" to direct your child's attention.
Read Newspaper Advertisements
Lie on the floor or sit with your child and read newspaper advertisements. Your child will enjoy the advertisement’s large print and bright colors. Advertisements contain a lot of repetitive wording. Guide with your finger as your read out the large print in the ad copy.
With lots of pictures and photos to look at and with Mom's commentary, reading advertisements should be much more fun than simply looking at regular texts. "Achoo, achoo, my nose hurts, my throat hurts – this is the medicine I need!" Repeat the sentences from the advertisement like this, drawing their attention as you read out loud. Your child's concentration should also improve. After playing this game, when your child cries just say "Where's the cold medicine I take when I go 'achoo'?" This will distract your child enough that they will forget what they were crying about.
Recognizing Store Signs in the Neighborhood
Children who cannot read but still see a lot of written words are capable of accurately remembering the words from storefronts and advertisements. This is because children store the words in their memory as pictures.
The Store Sign Reading Game takes advantage of this aspect of children's memories. Hang up the names of beloved snacks or signs your child sees often in place that they look frequently. Whenever you remember, read the signs to your child. Let them read along with you. Point out each word as you read in a loud voice.
Recognizing the Names of Daily Necessities
Put pieces of paper containing their names on home electronics, toys and daily accessories. Put them on things that are within your child's direct reach. You will observe that the number of words your child understands grow each day.
When your child's comprehension reaches a certain point, stick the name for the TV on the fridge and mix up the rest of the names the same way. Ask your child to stick the names on the correct objects. Don't hang up too many names or force them to play. It lets you cause your child to lose interest in the game.
Use Sentences You Use Every Day
Write down situations that your child is likely to encounter each day and then stick these up in appropriate places around the house. For example "Please hand me a cloth", works for the bathroom. "Make sure the door is shut", can go on the refrigerator. "Tidy up your shoes", can be hung up in your home's entrance way.
You can also, depending on the situation, have your child read along word by word as you read out sentences. You could read out "Make sure the door is shut" word by word, from left to right. And then shut the door of the fridge in front of your child. This is one way for your child to gradually learn the meaning of these sentences. When your child finally finishes learning how to speak, these sentences will come easily to him/her.
And that’s it when it comes to teaching your child about writing.