The four simple steps to reading

Sing Say Point Play One pagerThese four simple things can help babies learn to talk and children learn to read!


Singing helps your young child develop an awareness of different sounds. Songs introduce new words. Sing nursery rhymes, silly made-up songs or songs on the radio. Your child loves to hear your voice. Just sing!


Your child learns to talk by hearing your words. Describe what you are doing, seeing or thinking about, especially to your baby. Wait to give him/her time to say something back. Then, respond to his/her sounds and words. Back and forth conversation is key!


When your child points, he is telling you what is important. When you point, you bring attention to the meaning of words and ideas. Point to what catches his eye, interesting things around you, or pictures and words in a book. Pointing is a powerful communication tool!


Your child makes sense of the world when he/she plays. You are her most important playmate. Get on the floor and explore with all your senses. Spend time together dropping, stacking, pouring, banging and pretending. Follow her lead, talk a lot and have fun!

What about Play?

  • Play is intrinsically motivated, entails active engagement and results in joyful discovery and learning.
  • Play progresses from social smiling [in infancy] to reciprocal serve-and-return interactions. …Play and learning are inextricably linked.
  • High quality instruction – engaging educative experiences at school – look suspiciously like play.
  • Children strive to use their highest levels of thinking, language and collaboration because they want to keep the play going.
  • The brain building fueled by play does not depend on expensive toys or electronics. These can even shut down children’s creativity and fragment their attention.
  • Stick to open-ended basics like blocks, balls, boxes, crayons, paper, scissors, glue, tape, books, puzzles, dolls and items from nature. Use what is already available at home, e.g., differently-sized boxes, used envelopes and containers, etc.
  • Without taking over, join into children’s play and activities sometimes. Listen to and talk with your child. Enjoy the process and do not be overly concerned with producing a product.
  • Your low-key participation and presence are experienced as a present by your child. “I matter. You see me. I can!”

Chamayne Green, M.Ed is an Early Childhood consultant at Oakland Schools. 

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