2-year-old boy looks through books at the library. Although your toddler isn't able to read on their own yet, there are several pre-literacy skills you can start building on now.

What Pre-Literacy Skills Can I Start Practicing with My 2-Year-Old?

Pre-literacy skills are the abilities that children need to develop before they learn to read and write. Although they'll be learning all about reading in school, having plenty of exposure to books and words will create a base from which they can build on when they start kindergarten. By practicing these skills with your 2-year-old, you can lay a strong foundation for their future literacy success. Here are some pre-literacy skills that you can start practicing with your little one today!

  1. Vocabulary building - Children's vocabulary size correlates with later reading and writing success. You can start by pointing out and naming objects around your home or while you are out and about. Make sure to use descriptive words when you're talking about the objects.
  2. Phonological awareness - This is the ability to hear and play with the sounds in words. You can practice this by singing nursery rhymes and songs that involve clapping, stomping, or tapping out rhythms. You can also play games that involve identifying the beginning sounds of words or rhyming words.
  3. Narrative skills - This is the ability to describe things and tell stories. You can encourage your child to tell you stories about their day or things they see around them. You can also read books with your child and ask them to retell parts of it or describe their favorite part. At 2 years old, they may not be able to say too much. But you can expand on the few words that they may say.
  4. Letter recognition - While it's not necessary for your 2-year-old to know all the letters of the alphabet, you can start introducing them to the letters in their name. You can also use magnetic letters on the fridge or bath toys that have letters on them to practice letter recognition.
  5. Print awareness - Print awareness is simply the understanding of how print and books work. This means knowing how to physically handle books, (holding them right-side up and turning the pages,) understanding the reading happens from top to bottom, and knowing that people derive meaning from words and letters. Fortunately, this skill is easy to practice. All you have to do is make sure your child spends plenty of time with books, either with you and/or independently. Read to them and point to the words as you go and let them turn the pages.
  6. Comprehension - Long before your child learns how to read they will have the ability to understand and remember what is read to them. Incorporate reading into your daily routine and have conversations about your favorite parts and characters. Even though your child's language is limited at 2 years, they understand more than they can say and can exchange in back and forth exchanges using a few words at a time. Expand on what they say and point to illustrations for support.

Pre-literacy skills are the foundation for future reading and writing success. By practicing these skills with your 2-year-old, you can help them develop a love of learning and set them on a path towards success in school and beyond. Remember to make learning fun and engaging for your child, and don't worry about perfection – just enjoy the process of learning together!

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