Make the process of learning to read easy and fun for your child -- and you!
Step 1: Be a chatterbox From the time your child is born, keep up a steady stream of chatter -- tell them what you're doing, what they're doing, and what's going on around you both. Researchers have found that toddlers who were spoken to a lot from infancy tested higher in language skills than those whose parents were less talkative.
Step 2: Read to children Begin reading aloud to your baby when they are 6 months old. Education experts agree that reading to children is the single best thing parents can do to pave the way for their child to learn to read.
Step 3: Show them words When you read to your child, show them the letters and words you're saying by using your finger as a pointer. Get them to participate, too, by asking them to find pictures. Such interaction provides them with the building blocks of reading.
Step 4: Teach tots their ABCs Teach preschoolers their ABCs: print the letters of their name, saying each one as you write it, and encourage them to do the same; point out letters and words wherever you go; and ask your child to pick out letters in publications.
TIP: Put alphabet magnets on the fridge to help them spell different words daily.
Step 5: Foster their "phonemic awareness" Use word games to foster their "phonemic awareness" -- the ability to hear and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Ask them to isolate the first or last sound in a word; challenge them to recognize a word when one letter is added or taken away; give them three letters and ask them to blend the separate sounds they make.
Step 6: Don't push it Be realistic. Most children are not ready to learn to read until around age 5. And don't be alarmed if your child seems slow: there is no connection between an early ability to read and intelligence. The bottom line? Fostering a life-long love of reading is more important than turning out an early bookworm.
FACT: Books about friendships between children of different races can help overcome prejudice, according to a study.