7 ways to boost your child’s early literacy skills without a book in sight

March 5, 2016

Did you know that preparing your preschooler to read can be easy, unplanned, and happen on the go?



What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of early literacy? For most people, it’s books. But storybook reading is not the only way to help your chid learn reading skills.

Surprisingly, one of the best ways to teach literacy is also the simplest: talking! Children need to say or hear about 21,000 words each day to develop their vocabulary, and a good vocabulary increases kids’ chances of completing both high school and college.


  1. Play with hi & bye.

    Teach your child different ways to say hello and good-bye — in English and other languages. (Here are some examples: good morning, buenos dias, allo, konnichiwa, zao, aloha, good-bye, ciao, see you later, buh-bye, adios, later alligator, hasta lluego, bai bai la). Practice different greetings every day. Even the physical act of waving helps children learn these expressive statements at an early age. Not comfortable speaking other languages? Try stringing words together to make longer and longer sentences: Good morning. Good morning, Monica. Good morning, Monica, with the big pretty eyes. Good morning, Monica, sitting on the blue blanket.


  2. Play storyteller and listener.

    Use stories to introduce new words your child might not encounter in everyday conversations, such as the names of planets, flowers, or animals. If your child is a little older, you can switch off who is telling the story. Be sure to add questions while telling a story (e.g. What do you think the boy should do?). This gives your little one a chance to be creative and practice both speaking and comprehension skills. Plus, the bonding time helps children’s brains make important connections between emotions and words.


  3. Hit pause regularly.

    You’re probably already watching TV and movies (Frozen, again?). If so, make it a habit to hit pause to share your reactions. Was that surprising? Funny? When a program or movie is over, talk about what happened in the story and how it ended. For example, How else co