Reading is the foundation of education. Every aspect of learning, from grade school through graduate school, requires students to read text, comprehend what they read, and use that comprehension to complete tasks and assignments. But before students can use their reading skills to learn, they have to learn to read!

While preschools and elementary schools introduce reading skills and build on instruction as a child progresses, children will benefit from an early introduction to early reading skills in the home environment. Reading practice can begin before a child enters preschool and can continue as an essential part of your child’s development. Here are a few online resources to get you started:

Children as young as 6 months old begin to acquire an understanding of language. Infants will usually begin vocalizing at this time, and will demonstrate an awareness of spoken words. Language development then continues rapidly, as children begin to babble, speak their first words, engage in basic conversations, and use words to communicate and comprehend.

Parents can support this development by verbally interacting with their child, repeating words, and encouraging their child to make sounds and basic whole words. Try to use real words when speaking to your infant instead of babbling incoherently, so your child can pick up on the sounds of our language and words. Babbling is appropriate and necessary for the infant, but not the adult! Vocabulary development will also move much faster if you give objects their real name from the beginning, for example calling a dog “dog” instead of “woof” when you point to one.

The infographic below gives a general overview of reading milestones from Infancy to Kindergarten. After beginning formal schooling, older children will build upon these skills as they begin solidifying their understanding of letters, letter-sounds, and whole words and move toward more independent reading. When your child’s developing skills fall into the “Kindergarten” range on the list, consider an online reading program like Red Apple Reading to help teach your youngster how to read using a combination of phonics and sight word recognition.

What activities have you done with your child to promote literacy skills in the early years?