Early Reading Skills in Everyday Routines

Parents and caregivers can play a big role in setting-up children for reading success. Using a few fun and engaging activities in everyday life will facilitate the development of early reading skills. Maybe nursery rhymes and ‘I Spy’ games seem like just play, but they actually help children build critical knowledge. Here are five easy ways to incorporate support for essential pre-reading skills in everyday life.:

Sing Nursery Rhymes in the Bath

The rhyming structure of these songs and poems helps build rhyme awareness. Rhyme awareness is a precursor to understanding that words are made up of individual sounds. This knowledge is needed to become a proficient reader and speller. Feel free to make-up your own rhyming songs and don’t be afraid to be silly! You can sing at anytime; try bathtime, while getting dressed, or at bedtime. 

Play ‘I Spy’ in the Car

Vocabulary knowledge is tied to reading comprehension outcomes. ‘I Spy’ and guessing games like 20 questions build and support vocabulary by having children make several associations for one word. You can add in practicing letter and letter sound knowledge by giving a clue like ‘I’m thinking of something that starts with D”.  You can play these games in the car, on a walk, in the grocery store, or really anywhere!  

Add Writing into Play

Practice writing the alphabet in fun ways. Have your child write with paint, chalk, or use their fingers to write in sand or even shaving cream! You can shape letters from playdough, cookie dough, or bread dough. As your child writes, talk about the sounds the letters make and name or draw words that start with each letter. Finally, these activities should feel fun and easy for your child– help them as much as they need.

Run Errands 

A large part of reading comprehension is tied to background knowledge. Grow your child’s knowledge of a variety of concepts through including them in your everyday activities. Going to the grocery store, laundry mat, park, post office and all the other places we go throughout the day exposes your child to new concepts. Most importantly, talk with your child during these activities and try to use words associated with each place. For instance, at the post office you can talk about envelopes, stamps, mailboxes, and the job of a postman. 

Read Everyday

Reading to your child has a multitude of benefits. It exposes children to new vocabulary, sentence structures, narrative structure, and a variety of novel concepts. Remember, reading can last as long as your child is interested in the book.  It’s okay to switch to a more preferred book if your child shows they’re getting bored,. These reading times should feel fun and enjoyable for you and your child. Try setting a time to read everyday to help make reading a part of your routine.


For more ideas on supporting reading skills at different ages, checkout these parent guides from Reading Rockets. If you have concerns about your child’s reading skills, a speech-language pathologist can help