Teaching your child to write can also help them learn to read. Start with big, capital letters—which are easier to print—and let your child have at it, freehand, Neuman advises. “It’s important for them to have blank pieces of paper and not lined paper so they can explore,” Neuman says. “First, they tend to do it artistically and play with it, and then they get more exact and refined as they develop the muscles of the hand.” You might begin with the letters of your child’s name.
“There’s nothing more fun for children than when they can print their name very clearly,” Neuman says. “It gives them a sense of identity and they love that.” Once again, avoid teaching tools that are confining— like letter-tracing books. “We need to get children to recognize the difference between what the parent does and what they do,” Neuman explains. “Over time, with enough practice, they will do it the right way. Tracing isn’t necessary at all.”
Research shows that children who are most likely to have reading difficulties start kindergarten without an adequate ability to sound out letters—and that they continue to struggle with reading throughout their academic careers.
This is just one more reason why it’s important to talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child’s hearing or speech. “Language development is the centerpiece of reading,” Neuman notes. So if a child is speech-delayed or has hearing difficulties, the parent needs to seek the advice of a pediatrician.
NEXT: Ready-to-Read Checklist