Kindergarten English Language Arts tips: Here's how to help your student

Here's how you can help your kindergartner master the basics of reading and writing outside of the classroom.

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By Aisha Labi

Hoping to help your kindergartner with reading and writing skills? Here are some basic tips that experts suggest.

Read every day

Perhaps the single most important thing you can do at this stage to foster your child’s reading and writing skills is to read to him every single day. An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study comparing the role of parents in education in several countries found that the factor that best predicts better reading performance when a child is 15 is whether they were read to during their early years. So read as often as you can to your child, even if just for 20 minutes a day, and do your best to make reading time a fun experience that both of you enjoy.

Develop your child's curiosity for books

Before you actually start to read a new book to your child, read just the title and look at the picture on the cover or first page. Ask her, "What do you think this book will be about?" “Tell me what you know about...?” These questions will help your child develop curiosity about books.

Read non-fiction books

Make sure to include non-fiction books in the titles you choose. Kindergartners are fascinated by the world around them and learn a lot about how it works from non-fiction books. They especially love books about animals (including dinosaurs, of course!), outer space, and trucks and machines.

Develop good reading habits

Reading skills will always be essential to your child's academic success, so do everything you can to make sure that they develop good reading habits. It's especially important that your child sees you and other adults enjoying reading. This will help them view reading in a positive light.

Sing songs to your child

Reading to your child isn't the only way to ensure that they become a strong reader as they get older. Singing songs together and familiarizing them with a range of lyrics will also help develop language skills.

Play word games

Play simple word games like I Spy and seek out things that begin with a certain letter. In the car, play games with road signs or license plates, such as having your kindergartner spot words or plates that begin with a specific letter.

Act out a storyline

Have your child "act out" the storylines of a book you're reading. This helps your child learn new vocabulary words and better understand plot and character development.

Play vocabulary word games

Make a game out of broadening your child's vocabulary. Choose five unfamiliar new words for your child to learn each week and see how often everyone in the family can use those words in everyday conversation. This will help improve your kindergartner's vocabulary, reading comprehension, and speaking skills.

Encourage writing and drawing

As a parent, you can do so much to help your kindergartner feel like a writer. Encourage drawing, scribbling, and writing. Successful and fluent writers are confident in their abilities and writing every day, in whatever form, will help your child gain that confidence.

Explore different uses for writing

Make sure that your child sees how you use writing in different ways for different tasks, purposes, and audiences. Provide a running commentary as you write, explaining what you're writing, to whom, and why. Explain why you're making sure to use more formal language and capital letters in a thank you note to your mother, compared to the conversational tone of a note to your spouse about groceries.

To find out what your kindergartner will be learning in English Language Arts class, check out our kindergarten English Language Arts skills page.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Nell Duke, Professor, University of Michigan; Linda Gambrell, Professor, Clemson University; Joyce Epstein, Director, Center of School, Family and Community Partnerships, Johns Hopkins University; Pamela Mason, Program Director/Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Barbara Stripling, Senior Associate Dean, Syracuse University, and align with the Common Core State Standards.