How to Improve Your Child’s Literacy from 3 to 5 Years

As your child gets to preschool age, there are plenty of fun activities you can do with them to improve their early literacy and prepare them for kindergarten and first grade.

Read, Read, Read

At this age, reading and learning will probably be right at the top of your child’s to-do list. They will listen as you read, help you turn pages and even complete sentences from their favorite stories. It’s important to read with them often, and equally as important to make sure it’s fun for them.


Keep Talking

As you take your child out and about, talk about everything you see, the people you might find and what is happening around you. Everyday descriptions of the things around you will help your child build their words. Anything can be made into a story as well. Is there a princess trapped in a shopping aisle at your grocery store? What happens if an elephant escapes from the zoo? Who are the police cars chasing?


Starting to Write

Your child will want to write – it’s part of learning to read. Give them crayons, pencils, felt-tips and paper and encourage them to write. It will just be scribbles, but it’s the starting point of writing. Let your child watch you write as well, so they can learn from you.


Discussing the Books you Read

Your child will ask a lot more questions at this age about the books you’re reading – it’s a good sign, even if you’ve answered them a hundred times before! It’s good if you ask your child questions too, like what they think will happen at the end of the story, or who their favorite character is and why. Don’t forget to ask them to describe the pictures as well.


Word Games

Use the rhymes and songs your child is familiar with to improve the way they listen. Ask them to complete a rhyme or the last word of a song. Play around with rhymes, changing the letters at the start of words until they are nonsense. It may sound funny, but it will help your child listen and recognize different sounds.


It’s All in the Name

Your child will probably love looking at the letters in their own name. Use that to play alphabet games. For example, you could mix up the letters of their name and ask them to put the letters back in the right order. Ask them to name objects which start with the same first letter as their name. Always get them to sign anything they draw or paint!


Learning the Alphabet

ABCs can be tricky to learn, but you can get your child interested by matching each letter of the alphabet to pictures and objects they love. There are also plenty of ABC books on different subjects – animals, machines, farms, etc. – which will help tap into what they like.


Reading Together

Before you start reading a story to your child, read the title and author’s name and look at the picture on the front cover. As your child turns each page, follow the words with your finger so they can see the text your words go with. These things are important for understanding how books work.

What Your Child Can Learn between 3 to 5 Years

There are many opportunities for encouraging early literacy as your child gets a little older. Below are some of the skills you can expect to see as your child grows.

Note: It’s normal for children to learn at different speeds, and not every child will reach all of these milestones within the timeframes listed here. But if you are concerned about your child’s development, call Greenbush’s Early Childhood department at 620.724.6281.

  • Can answer questions about pictures
  • Complete sentences with the right word when reading a well-loved book
  • Turn pages of books (maybe with a little support)
  • Ask simple questions about the story
  • Start to link stories to their own life
  • Ask for their favorite story
  • Act out a familiar story
  • Use pictures to tell a story
  • Can loosely explain something that happened to someone who wasn’t there
  • Understands who an author is
  • Ask “why” about things that happen and characters in a story (sometimes more than once!)
  • Understand more complex stories
  • Start to guess the end of books they aren’t familiar with
  • Talk about why characters do things
  • Can explain what words mean
  • Tell made-up stories and retell stories from books, remembering the sequence of events
  • Pretend to read easy books
  • Start to explain what they mean by something they said

The Books to Choose for 3 to 5 Years

Children are now more interested in books and letters. They can recognize most of the alphabet and may recognize a printed letter by its sound, and will probably pretend to read books. What are the best books to choose for three- to five-year-olds?

Choose books which:

  • Are about ideas
  • Include shapes, numbers and colors
  • Have easy-to-follow stories
  • Have a rhythm – it makes it easier for a child to read along with you
  • Are about familiar subjects such as family or animals
  • Have interesting characters who like each other and solve problems together
  • Have colorful pictures
  • They can relate to in their own life