123's on the ABC's (Guest Post)

iStock_000000982062XSmallToday I'm sharing with you a guest post from child literacy expert (and my friend), Nicola Lott. She has great news on how to support your child to love learning. Also she has some great games and books for sale if you're looking for last-minute Christmas gifts. Enjoy! Kristen

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There is conundrum facing all parents of kids aged 0-5years. You want to make sure that your child is prepared for school but you don’t want to be a “pushy parent”. A profusion of myths have sprouted over the past decade around the skills kids need to start Kindergarten, leaving parents trying to do their best with very little more than guesswork and gossip as a guide.

Everyone has met at least one parent in the playground with a 2 year old who knows the alphabet and appears to be on a trajectory to read War & Peace by Christmas.

Fact: In BC the learning deliverable upon graduation from Kindergarten is that kids will know at least 20 letters. Kids are certainly not expected to know the alphabet upon entering Kindergarten. Some do, but not all.

The truth is that learning to recognise the letters is just one of the many vital pre-reading skills that kids need in order to become accomplished readers. The best way to build these skills is to expose your child to a wealth of books from birth onwards. Be sure to read a range of non-fiction, fiction and rhyming books to help build a broad vocabulary. Modeling how much you enjoy reading has a profound impact on your child. Use the dinner table and car trips to work on listening skills by clapping out word syllables and playing sound games like “what sound does ‘car’ begin with?” That way, when your child is ready to learn the alphabet he or she will already have an understanding of language and how it goes together making letter learning meaningful.

Kids typically come to a place where their brain is ready to 'easily' learn letters sometime between three and a half and six years old.

When your child is ready to learn letters, he will be able to spot the difference between the shapes of the letters and be excited about learning them. Start by teaching the letters in his name. If that goes well try some other useful words like 'Mummy' & 'Daddy'. If it's going well, keep going. If not, wait for six months and try again. Studies show that children who learn to read at their own pace in a home where parents share their passion for reading are more likely to read for pleasure by the time they are ten years old, and in the big picture, that's far more important than learning to read early.

The next time you feel unsure about your child’s literacy abilities, take comfort in the knowledge that the path to raising a child who loves reading may not necessarily be the shortest one.

Nicola Lott is a Family Literacy Specialist who helps parents navigate early literacy in a fun playful way. Check her out at www.notchhilllearning.com or on Facebook.