Reading – early building blocks
– the early building blocks
Before a child learns to read, she needs a firm foundation. Most children aren’t ready to decipher words on a page before they’re between five and seven years old. But you can develop your little one’s reading abilities way before then, says Terésa Coetzee
2From the age of four, your little one should be able to distinguish between left and right. Because sentences begin on the left and run to the right (in English), this basic principle is necessary for reading.
When one reads, visual discrimination takes place – all printed letters are placed against a certain background, and to be able to read, your child has to be able to distinguish colours first. Train her eyes by placing a black circle on a white piece of paper, for instance, and asking her to distinguish the colours.
Because we read with our eyes, visual perception is one of the biggest factors that needs to be exercised.
The second part of visual perception your child should master is to distinguish between what's in the foreground and what's in the background. Play games with animals or blocks and chat with her about what's in front, in the middle and at the back. Blocks are a wonderful prop to practise this skill.
Our Latin alphabet consists of 26 letters, and a further distinction is made between capitals and lowercase letters. Moreover, the appearance of capitals and lowercase letters differs (think about the letters E and e, I and i, T and t, R and r, and so on).
But there are capitals that look almost exactly like their lowercase letters, and that's why it's important that little ones have to be able to distinguish between big and small before they can start reading. They should also be able to identify the beginning and the end. Where's the top and where's the bottom?