As a parent, you may know very little about literacy education or teaching children how to read. You know you’re supposed to read to your kids from an early age, but other than that, you kind of expect the schools to do the rest, right?
And now you’re faced with teaching a child how to read Braille – a system that may be almost as foreign to you as it is to them. Where do you begin? Can you really just leave this up to your child’s teachers? Is there a way to prepare your child for preschool and kindergarten literacy?
There are a lot of things you can do at home for your child to introduce them to the basics of Braille, and, really, it’s not all that much different than teaching a sighted child how to read print, though the process may take a bit longer.
Just think about how a sighted child learns to read. You may not understand the entire process, but you know that children are surrounded by words every day: they see them in books, they see them on cereal boxes, on toy boxes, and on TV. Kids see words on stickers and ask you to read the words to them. They learn from a very early age that words mean something and they want to unlock the secret meaning themselves so they can participate in the reading game.
The biggest role you can play as the parent of a blind or visually impaired child is to teach them that words mean something. That those silly little bumps in their books are symbols that represent ideas and stories. And the best way to do that is to surround your child with Braille in their everyday lives. This means that Braille, like print, belongs everywhere, not just in books.
A wonderful resource that can help you bring Braille into your home is the APH Word Association Print/Braille Label Kit. This kit includes 191 adhesive labels of everyday words (like couch or spoon) that you can place around your house. Each sticker includes both the print and the contracted Braille word so it’s readable by everyone.
The kit also includes a very nice book about Braille literacy and word associations. The book not only explains the best ways to use your labels, but also how children learn to read and how learning to read when you can’t see produces its own unique challenges. After reading this book you’ll understand why it’s important to begin early Braille literacy at home.
Purchasing the kit is easy. You can either call APH directly at 1-800-223-1839 and order item number 8-39050-00 or you can order online.
The kit costs $39 and you can also buy replacement label sheets for $22. You can purchase the book separately for $17. Of course, as we always point out, you can also see if your child’s Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or Early Intervention Program will purchase the kit for you.
More Braille Resources
To learn more about teaching your baby Braille read our article Ten Ways to Teach Your Baby Beginning Braille Skills. To learn more about teaching yourself Braille read our article Ten Tips to Help You Teach Yourself Braille.