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7 Awesome Reading Readiness Exercises to Do with Your Preschooler

A mother and daughter reading on the floor next to a window seat.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Long before formal reading instruction starts in school, you can give your child a boost by incorporating these fun reading readiness activities into his daily routine.

As many preschools remain closed, parents are struggling to keep their youngsters engaged and occupied. Learning to read can open up a world of adventure, exploration, and excitement. But keep in mind, while the main goal is teaching your child to love reading, there’s no point in forcing it.

We suggest you start slowly and incorporate what you can into your daily schedule. With small children, don’t focus on drilling skills and getting them to read early. Instead, work on building an association between reading and fun!

You’ll be surprised how much your child will learn just from being exposed to basic concepts and, of course, lots of books!

Letter of the Week

Many preschools dedicate each week to a specific letter. This allows children to explore everything about that letter, including sounds, words, its overall shape, and so on.

You can print off charts, games, worksheets, or order this flip book for some awesome activities.

You can take the theme into the kitchen, too, and make foods that begin with each letter, such as apple pie, banana custard, carrot soup, and so on. This A-Z guide has some tasty recipes and creative ideas, like making breadsticks in the shape of an X. Brilliant!

Play Alphabet Games

Include plenty of alphabet-themed games in your child’s toy collection. She won’t even know she’s learning!

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Puzzles: Start with this simple wooden puzzle, and then move on to this more challenging train. Also, consider getting your child a name puzzle.
  • Blocks: You can use alphabet blocks to build towers, walls, or to spell easy words.
  • Memory: We like this version because the capital letter matches its lowercase form.
  • Bingo: This classic is easy, but educational.
  • Magnets: Even your fridge can help you teach your child with fun alphabet magnets! We like this set because it includes both upper- and lowercase letters, and numbers (it’s never too early to start them on math, as well).

Want to stock up on a budget? Ask friends and family with older kids if they still have any alphabet-related toys. You’ll probably find out that, not only do they have a big ole storage tote full of them, but that they’d also be thrilled to pass them on and declutter.

Reading Awareness

A father and son, lying on the floor reading a book.
Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock

Reading to your children daily offers many benefits. Not only does it introduce them to the wonderful world of books, but it also exposes them to language, story concepts, and ideas. It also broadens their imagination.

You can choose from a wide range of books that include words that rhyme, words that are simpler or more complex, and so on. Don’t be afraid to read more challenging books to your child, even if it’s a step or two above his reading level. This will encourage him to keep expanding, and it will also grow his vocabulary.

Most importantly, explain the process of reading to your child. For example, talk about how you read books from front to back, and read the words from left to right. Point out the title and a few words as you go. You can even leave out a word or two when reading your child’s favorite story to prompt him to read it himself.

Reading Comprehension

Discussing key aspects of a story is a great way to help your child understand the concept of reading. We read so we can learn, explore, and discover.

Pause while reading and ask your child what she thinks will happen next. Afterward, discuss the highlights of the story.

Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • Were there scary parts?
  • Were the characters happy or sad?
  • Did anything bad happen?
  • What was your favorite part?

You can even have your child draw or paint a picture after reading a story. Let her creative expression flow and don’t correct her if the drawing has nothing to do with the story. Remember, the goal is to make reading fun!

Practice Writing

A young girl sitting at a kitchen table with her mother and writing the alphabet.
Flamingo Images/Shutterstock

Writing helps your child understand the importance of words and that all those letters help tell a story!

First, have your child trace the letters with his fingers. Then, he can move on to writing some basic letters. You can print out some worksheets or use a wipe-clean alphabet workbook.

Help your child memorize the sounds of each letter as he writes. For example, when he writes an S, you can say, “Ssss. You’re writing ssssss.” This can help bridge the gap between letter recognition and sounding out words.

Early Reading Apps

Yes, using an app means more screen time for your child. However, if used in moderation and with supervision, they can help develop and broaden your preschooler’s early literacy skills.

Here are our top picks:

  • Starfall Learn to Read: This free app helps your child master sound-spelling with an array of exciting movies, songs, and activities. You can watch the video above for a sneak preview. It’s available in the App Store and on Google Play.
  • Homer: Because it caters to your child’s particular interests, this app provides reading material kids actually care about. You can get it in the App Store or on Google Play. There’s a free trial, and then it’s $9.99 per month or $45 per year.
  • Reading Eggs: Your child will learn basic reading skills via a variety of songs, games, and golden eggs. The fun rewards will make your child proud of his advancing skills and encourage him to keep exploring. Available in the App Store and on Google Play, you can try it free for 30 days. After that, it’s $9.95 per month or $59 per year.

Educational TV Shows

Feeling guilty about the amount of screen time your preschooler has had during the lockdown? Hey, we get it—we’re working parents, too.

One way to alleviate this might be to include some educational shows in your child’s daily programming. That way, at least you’ll know he or she is learning something, rather than just zoning out on meaningless mush (although, a bit of that is okay, too).

Here are some awesome reading shows to get your child inspired:

  • Alphablocks: Brightly colored, adorable blocks dance and teach your child basic phonics, word structure, and other necessary early-reading skills. You can check out the video above, or watch the whole series on Netflix.
  • Super Why!: This show is geared toward ages 3-6. It will help your child gain key reading skills through a series of magical adventures. You can watch on YouTube or Amazon Prime.
  • Word World: A group of fun, goofy animals take your children on a journey of discovery. They’ll learn all about the important connections between letters, sounds, and words. It’s available on YouTube or Amazon Prime.

Learning to read shouldn’t be an arduous, painful chore—it should be fun! Stimulate your child’s interest with these engaging games and activities. And don’t worry—the actual reading will happen whenever your child is ready.

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »

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