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Parents are always looking for ways to help their kids learn and do better in all avenues of life. Sadly, we are often comparing our kids to others similar in age. We know we shouldn’t, but sometimes it happens unthinkingly. We begin to worry…should my two year old be talking in complete sentences using articles and prepositions properly with the correct verb tense too? Perhaps we should take Jake home and practice jumping on one foot like Connor does…we don’t want him to be behind when they start to play basketball! 

No. Don’t go home and drill your three year old on one legged hops. That’s ridiculous (although I do understand the urge). Each of our little darlings is unique and precious. They learn and grow at their own pace. This is as it should be. However, there are things we can do to help them grow and learn to the best of their ability for their age and stage.

Reading is the basis of all learning, and is an important skill for school and life. At our story hour one day the librarian introduced us to an early literacy initiative that has been adopted by our state library. I’ve decided to tray and utilize it at home. It is one way that I can give my kids a boost at home…without the jump drills.

The Kansas State Library adopted 6×6: Ready to Read as an early literacy initiative in 2012. The program is based on a review of current research that states there are 6 skills children should experience before they even get to school. These skills will help them immeasurably as they prepare for, and begin to learn, reading and writing. In fact, they are essential skills for literacy. These skills are basic and easy for parents and child care providers to incorporate into daily schedules and activities.

1. Have Fun with Books

2. Notice Print All Around You

3. Talk Talk Talk

4. Tell Stories About Everything

5. Look for Letters Everywhere

6. Take Time to Rhyme, Sing, and Play Word Games

The initiative also recognizes three distinct categories children fall into as they prepare to read: Early Talkers (birth to 2), Talkers (2-3), and Pre-Readers (4-5). It is important to introduce these skills and repeat them throughout all three of these stages. Activities and books can be modified for each group and built upon as they get closer to becoming readers.

I have two small ones at home right now. In an effort to improve how I read and play with my kids in regards to literacy, I’ll do a seven part series over these skills.  These posts will share ideas, books, activities, and resources pertaining to the six skills. We will also discuss the age categories and what can be done through each stage of development. I know I will learn a lot, and I hope you will too.

BTW the artwork is done by Brad Sneed. If you remember, I talked about one of his books in an earlier post.

BTW the artwork on the cards is done by Brad Sneed. I talked about his ABC book in an earlier post.

There is a great brochure put out by the Kansas State Library that provides a bit more information. As a parent patron I received a set of activity cards with ideas and suggestions for implementing skill practice at home from my local library. I will draw on these for my posts, but I encourage you (those of you who live in Kansas) to swing by your local library and see if they have any available.

Our library also has 6×6 activity totes that can be checked out by parents and day-care providers that have books, games, crafts, and other activities built around the six basic skills for literacy preparation. If you have small ones at home I encourage you to go by the library and see what resources they have available, whether you live in Kansas or not. Most libraries have early literacy resources, and some will have similar programs to 6×6.

Please, feel free to share any thoughts and ideas you have as we go along. I would love to hear what has worked, and what hasn’t, for other parents and child minders!

Information for this post and other 6×6 posts is adapted from the 6×6 READY TO READ cards provided by the State Library of Kansas through a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.