Read every day
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do at this stage to foster your child’s early reading and writing skills is to read to their child 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 fifteen 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.
Point out authors and illustrators
When you sit down to read a book with your child, start by reading the title and the name of the author and illustrator. This will help to familiarize them with these important attributes of a book. Soon your child may have favorite authors or illustrators, such as Dr. Seuss, and will be able to recognize their work.
Read the same books
Make sure to read the same books to your child over and over again, over extended periods. The better your child gets to know a book, the more ways they will find to enjoy it. During one reading your child may just focus on the pictures. A week later, they may pay more attention to the story itself. A couple months later, they may notice the rhyming patterns of the words or focus on new vocabulary words.
Make reading engaging and interactive
When you are reading to your pre-kindergartner, make it as engaging and interactive an experience as possible. Pause from time to time to ask questions about what you’ve read so far and what is to come. Ask how they think a character is feeling or what they think will happen next. Make sure your child understands it’s fine if they guess wrong. The fun is in the guessing.
Once you've finished a story, have a little discussion with your child about it. Ask what they liked best about the story, who their favorite character was, and why they did specific things in the story. Learning to talk about what they have read will be an important foundation for the critical thinking skills that will be so important throughout their life.
To find out what your pre-K student will be learning in English Language Arts class, check out our pre-K English Language Arts skills page.
TODAY's Parenting Guides were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Sky Marietta, Assistant Professor, University of the Cumberlands; Gary Troia, Associate Professor, Michigan State University; and Nell Duke, Professor, University of Michigan, and align with the Common Core State Standards.