All SLPs can identify at least one child who immediately gets up and runs away as soon as they see a storybook come out. As we head into the hectic holiday season, it can spark your students’ interest—and help us stay motivated until the break—to try something easy and new.
These seven strategies work well for me to encourage preliteracy skills in the preschool population.
- Who wouldn’t naturally enjoy a cuddly little preschooler sitting in our lap while we read, or maybe face-to-face as they would during circle time? Instead, try placing the child in a chair or on the couch while you sit on the floor. This puts you and the book at their eye level and grabs their attention.
- Try to pair book reading with another preferred activity. Maybe read a short book during snack time or while they color. Include the parents and suggest that they try reading while the child is in the bathtub or eating a meal.
- Keep reading short and point to the text. Pointing at something for preschoolers increases the child’s attention to the task.
- Use suprasegmentals to keep the pace moving. Expressiveness can improve young children’s engagement and attention while increasing comprehension. Build anticipation through tone and pausing.
- Little ones love rhyme, and books with rhyming text provide an opportunity for phonological awareness development. With practice, children can start participating in joint book reading by anticipating the rhyme.
- Reading a book repetitively helps a child begin to “read” with you. Repetitive reading can also improve comprehension and word knowledge. And little ones adore reading a favorite story again and again!
- Make books available, but not forced. This gives children the opportunity to explore printed materials on their own. Independent reenactment of book reading is a critical skill in literacy development. You can give the child a book to explore while you transition activities, write data, or talk to the parent. Observe the child during these low-stress book reading activities to see if it differs from shared book reading.
Just like with any other skill, choose books that match the interests of the child. Create a multisensory experience tailored to the child’s individual needs. Through books, SLPs can provide a language-rich environment to target a variety of speech and language skills.
Klaire Brumbaugh, ClinScD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor in the communication disorders department at the University of Central Missouri. firstname.lastname@example.org