Beginning Letter Sounds
A key skill for children in this age range is mastering letter sounds. While reading with your child, casually point out a letter and ask what words start with that letter. For instance, if you point to an M, you may get answers like Mommy, and a D may be associated with Daddy. (Matching letters to family and friends' names is a great way for children to personalize letters and remember them better.) Be sure to keep it fun. If your child becomes frustrated or displays a lack of interest at any time, return to the story.
During this stage, your child will begin to recognize certain whole words—such as her name, the names of her siblings, Mommy, and Daddy—by sight. Encourage her to commit additional words to memory by pointing them out during the course of a story. For longer words, help her break them out into their individual syllables.
Most children in Pre-K and kindergarten have begun to write the letters of the alphabet, an important early literacy activity. If your child hasn’t yet mastered writing letters on her own, start by dotting out her name and other familiar words and having her trace them. Spend time writing together—as she sees you forming familiar letters and phrases, she’ll likely try mimicking them.
Similarities and Differences
Children age four and older begin to gain a more solid understanding of how they fit into the world, and specifically of their relationships to others. They also become more aware of the diversity among the children in their class at school. Choosing books that accentuate variations in race, nationality, body type, and family situations helps to reinforce their appreciation of these differences.
Look It Up
As your child approaches kindergarten age, don’t be surprised if her questions reflect a newfound depth and curiosity. Simple questions about the names of things on the page may give way to more complicated inquiries about the causes and implications of certain events. If you find yourself stumped on a question, don’t panic—look it up online or in a reference book and provide the answer later.