Get Reading: 3 – 4 year olds
At this age you just want to make sure that your child gets off to the best possible start. It’s all about sharing and enjoying books as well as introducing some of the very first skills of reading. These top tips outline some practical information and ideas for you!
Tip 1: Read together every day
Children need to read little and often, so snuggle up with a book or sit at the screen together at a time that works for you both (or all!). Also try to keep a regular slot each day for a special relaxing reading time if possible – we all need that!
Tip 2: Read everywhere you go
Read on the move and show your child how you read words everywhere you go too. Point out words they might recognise, including signs and logos in the street or on labels.
Tip 3: Find your favourites and add to them
Children love to listen to and read their favourite books over and over again and to remember some parts by heart. That’s fine as enjoyment and memory play a key part in learning to read. Add to their list of favourites by reading stories of all kinds, rhymes, poetry and information books too.
Tip 4: All join in
Start asking your child to join in with bits that are repeated in stories, e.g. ‘Run run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!’. Traditional stories, like The Gingerbread Man, are really good for this and children will love doing the voices!
Tip 5: Talk about books, words and pictures
Before you start reading a book, talk about the title, the pictures on the cover (front and back). Look through the pictures together and ask your child what they think the story might be about.
Tip 6: Talk about stories and events
As you read and when you’ve finished, sometimes ask questions about the story. What was your favourite bit? What do you think about that? What would you do? Get your child to ask you questions too. Don’t overdo it though – otherwise you can lose the thread of the plot.
Tip 7: Retell stories
Sometimes after you have shared a story, ask your child to retell it to you. Help by asking What happened first? What next? And then what? Can you remember what happens at the end?! Encourage them to use plenty of expression.
Tip 8: Listen to and sing songs and rhymes
Singing lots of songs and nursery rhymes helps your child to hear the sounds in words and build up a bank of known favourites. Play with words and sounds and make up nonsense rhymes in songs or nursery rhymes they know. Encourage them to join in.
Tip 1: Talk about letters and sounds
If you draw attention to letters and sounds, your child will begin to notice them as well. Knowing the letter sounds is a very important first step in early phonics teaching so start talking about these at the earliest opportunity.
For more help with letter sounds, check out our phonics sound chart.
Tip 2: Signs that your child may be ready to begin learning early reading skills
There are no hard and fast rules about this but if your child can do these things then it may be that they are ready to begin learning early reading skills:
listen to a story and retell bits of it
recognise some letter sounds (like the first sound in their name)
recognise his or her own name in writing
match some words (like Mum) when they see them in different places
concentrate for 5-10 minutes.