I have been an elementary school teacher for 9 years. 6 of those years I have spent in kindergarten and first grade. As a result I have been passionate about early childhood education!
The very first thing I tell parents when they ask me what to do with their child is to read to them. It doesn’t matter what you read, just read. Read everyday. Read lots of different types of books. Read the same book over and over. Read before they can talk. Read before they can sit on their own. Just read!
Associate letters with sounds. I love these books for that purpose. There is one book for each letter of the alphabet. Each book has pictures of 3 items that start with the letter of the book. It is a great way to introduce several words that begin with each sound of the alphabet.
This may seem basic but here are two reasons I think this is the best first step to later literacy!
1. It is based in science so much that the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending this!
2. My very first day as a kindergarten teacher right out of college I was giving a basic literacy test to the students who would be entering kindergarten at our school. When I first looked at the test one of the things I was supposed to do was hand a book to the child and see if they knew how to handle a book i.e. how to hold the book and how to turn the pages. I tested 20 students that day. Five of them could not hold the book facing the correct way or turn pages. That can indicate many things but most basically those 5 students did not have basic literacy skills. I followed those students through kindergarten and first grade and they were the students who were in reading remediation for the next two years. These basic skills are vital for reading.