Read­ing – early build­ing blocks

– the early build­ing blocks

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

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?

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