|As it’s World Literacy Day tomorrow, we wanted to focus on ways in which children can develop their reading skills. One of the very best things you can do for your child’s early literacy development is to simply let them play. Not only is play an important part of childhood, but you are actually helping them to build skills that are key to learning to read and write.Hand-eye coordination is a necessary skill for written language and the best way to help your child develop this is to let them play with toys and activities that involve looking at, using, and discriminating a number of elements. Puzzles are a great activity for this as are building blocks, Lego and construction toys.
Studies have shown that spending time on hand-eye co-ordination improves children’s ability to learn to read and reduces the likelihood of reading difficulties. In fact engaging in a variety of craft activities, which most kids love, is very beneficial so add play-dough, stickers and glue sticks to your list of educational supplies.
Puzzles help to develop hand-eye coordination because learning to control our hands and fingers – according to information received from sight – is a co-ordination skill that helps children in early attempts at reading and writing. Working out which piece goes where, figuring out how to fit pieces into place by making adjustments and seeing a sequence develop in an organized pattern is a valuable learning experience as well as fun for children.
Puzzles, matching games, and the like help children to learn visual discrimination. Visual discrimination is the ability of the brain to quickly tell the difference among visually similar letters, like “p,” “b,” and “q” or between words such as “was” and “saw.” Students with difficulty making these distinctions often struggle with learning to read, write, and spell. Playing games, engaging in activities or with toys that help children discriminate among similar objects can be fun for the child and help them master an important pre-literacy skill. Getting your child to help you sort out loose change in their piggy bank is a great way of encouraging visual discrimination.
Encourage your child to work their wrist and finger muscles as well as work on their co-ordination and fine motor skills to help prepare them for handwriting practice in their future. Activities that help include Lego and other building sets, play-dough, puzzles, pegboards and beads.
To celebrate National Literacy Day, the Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of the National Literacy Trust, will join the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to raise the profile of poetry in schools. Camilla is expected to read one of her favourite verses as she launches the Anthologise project – a competition in which groups of pupils will compile their own collections. Anthologise has been devised by the Poet Laureate to encourage wider reading, appreciation and enjoyment of poetry among school children. The competition is aimed at groups of any size from British secondary schools.