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The foundations for successful reading are built well before a child goes to school.  If you can get the early years right it will make progress with reading far easier.  Here are some tips for achieving that:

1  Baby Talk is Essential. 

Sometimes you hear criticisms of parents who use “baby talk” with their baby. Actually it is one of the most critical parts of parenting. Baby talk cannot be patronising, since the baby is a baby after all!  It becomes patronising once the child is no longer a baby.
The reason baby talk is so important is that it emphasises the individual sounds in each word (the phonemes). That makes it easier for the baby to pick up on those, for accurate speech and then for decoding letter patterns in due course.  The first two years of your life are a critical time for laying down knowledge of sounds.
In the same way, rhyming and playing with the sounds of words will make reading easier in the years ahead.

2  Make Books Fun.

As you start reading books with your child, it must be a fun experience. One is often tired at the end of a long day. And you have often read the same book ten times. But do whatever you can to pick up your energy and mood to enliven the whole experience.
That will lay down crucial pleasure pathway connections in your child’s brain. At a deep subconscious level, books will be connected with good times with Mummy or Daddy. Every bit of motivation to get reading going will be helpful when that process starts.

3  Play With Letters.

The letters of the alphabet are actually quite hard to become familiar with because they are so abstract. If you are unsure of that, just try teaching the Arabic alphabet to yourself!
The earlier your child starts to become familiar with the letters we use, through little games and the right alphabet book, the easier that process will be. It is much better if the alphabet can be learnt without pressure over a few months.
We sell a particularly good alphabet book called The Ants in Pink Pants, if you want to give it a go!

David Morgan is Managing Director of the Easyread System, an online synthetic phonics course designed to teach dyslexic and highly visual learners how to read.