Parenthood can be like a giant juggling act—a show-stopping, multi-tasking fiasco that leaves you wondering where one can purchase extra hours in the day. More and more families have two-income households. Busy parents often equal less quality family time on a daily basis. Even for busy stay-at-home parents, finding the time to get it all done is an overwhelming task.


The preschool years are a very formative time for children, a time when they begin to model their parents, begin to show signs of preferences for certain activities, develop their language and speech, and ultimately, have their minds and schedules wide open for learning. This is the perfect time to introduce children to the joys of literacy. Early reading readiness skills are paramount to school success once a child enters Kindergarten, so it is never too early to start! Here are some creative ways to carve out 15 minutes a day for your child’s early literacy skills. Each activity can be done in 15 minutes or less on a daily basis. These tips are excerpts from my upcoming book, which offers detailed game plans and a ton of variety for daily 15-minute activities.

0-2 years old
Bath time is a goldmine for sneaking in some learning. Get a set of foam alphabet letters for the tub (start with upper case letters) and have fun sticking them to the walls or tub, showing your child how the letters match up with the alphabet song. Early letter recognition sets the stage for essential preschool skills. Your child will eventually recognize alphabet letters by sight (in and out of order) and then master alphabetic order. 15 minutes a day or less, and bath time is no longer just a routine part of the day. Don’t worry—there will still be time for bubbles and cuddles while you play.

2-3 years old
Alphabet fridge magnets are classic, but provide a good bang for your buck. Find a set that has upper and lower case letters, and show your child how to match them up. This puts into practice alphabetic order, and allows your child to see different representations of the same letter. An easy way to guide your child is to slow down the melody of the alphabet song while you sing together, helping him figure out which letter is next. 15 minutes a day is all it takes! I used to sneak this in while preparing supper, or while making lunches in the morning.

3-4 years old
This is a great time to introduce letter-word association. A budget friendly pick is a set of flashcards that focus on initial letter sounds. For example, the B card might have an image of a ball, the D card a dog, etc. When playing with the cards, make the initial letter sound for your child: “B is for ball, Buh, Buh, Buh, ball.” Not only will your child begin to make letter associations with objects he/she is familiar with, but he/she will also begin to understand that each letter makes a sound. A fun way to shake it up is to have two sets of flashcards. Lay one set out on the floor or carpet, and with the other set, have your child find the matching letter card.

4-5 years old
As your child increases his letter-word and letter-sound association, it is a good time to begin working on both gross and fine motor skills. Your child can begin to make attempts at copying or tracing upper case alphabet letters using wide-ruled paper. There is no need for perfection at this point, but positive reinforcement and encouragement go a long way into making early literacy skills an exciting adventure for your preschooler. Remember, all it takes is 15 minutes a day!.

From birth onwards…
Multiple studies have shown that reading to your child on a daily basis (even from birth) results in a higher chance that your child will be motivated to learn to read, and quite possibly become a lifelong reader. Reading for pleasure in not taught, it is experienced. If you show a consistent interest in reading yourself, the likelihood that your child will pick up a book on his own increases dramatically. Always remember that our children don’t follow our advice, they follow our example.