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Every step a child takes toward learning to read leads to another.
Bit by bit, children build up what they know. Over the first 6 years, most children:
- hear sounds, see moements, and make connections between what they see and hear
- talk and listen
- pretend to read
- identify things in books
- write with scribbles and drawing
- identify letters and say them
- connect single letters with the sounds they make
- predict what comes next in poems and stories
- connect combinations of letters with sounds
- recognize simple words
- sum up what a story is about
- write individual letters of the alphabet
- write words
- write simple sentences
- read simple books
Sometimes more than one of these steps happen at the same time. In fact, when your child gets to the more advanced steps, he may still be doing many of the earlier ones. They will just come more naturally. This list of steps, though, gives you a general idea of how your child will progress. Each step along the way supports the more difficult steps that come next.
Talking and Listening
Scientists who study the human brain have found out a great deal about how we learn. They've discovered that babies learn much more from the sights and sounds around them than we ever thought possible. You can help your baby by taking advantage of her instant hunger to learn.
From the very beginning, babies try to imitate sounds. They read the looks on our faces and the movements of our hands. That's why it is so important to talk, smile, and gesture to them. Hearing you talk is their very first step toward becoming readers, because it helps them love language and learn words. At this point, the best thing you can do is talk and sing to your baby. (See Baby Talk.)
As she grows older, continue talking with your child. Ask her about the things she does. Ask her about the events and people in the stories you read together. Let her know you are listening carefully. Getting your child to use words gives her practice. You are also encouraging her to think as she speaks. And you are showing that you respect her knowledge and her ability to keep learning. (See Chatting with Children.)
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