Like many things in life, it can be hard to predict when a child’s brain will be ready to make the millions of connections required to actually read a word on her own. To illustrate how difficult making this prediction can be, I like to compare it to guessing when your child would walk. For months you watched her pull herself up to a standing position and helped her take steps while she held on to your hands. Then one day, maybe unexpectedly, she took her first step on her own. (A moment I am sure you will never forget!)
Just like your child showed signs that she was almost ready to start walking, she will also give clues that she is ready to begin reading. Teachers call these “pre-reading skills” and they include the following four concepts:
This is a no-brainer. Children must be interested in reading before they will put forth the effort to learn how to do it. Gathering books on topics your child enjoys and making story time a special chance to bond as a family are two quick ways to increase her motivation. For additional ideas, click here.
Children should understand that readers sound out words on a page by looking at letters, thinking about what sound they make, and putting those sounds together to make a word. They don’t need to be able to actually sound out the word, but they should grasp the concept.
This skill also includes understanding how to read a book. Children should be able to point to the cover, show you how to turn a page when you finish reading the words, and hold the book so that it faces the correct direction.
One quick way to help your child improve her understanding of reading basics is to think out loud. Click here to watch a short video explaining this technique.
Before children read, they also are able to quickly name the letters they see. (“That is a B. That is an O.”) Being able to recognize the letters prepares them for learning letter sounds later.
Since some of the best (and most entertaining) learning happens when children are playing, you can begin helping your child recognize the letters by playing games with them. A few of my favorites are:
Said more simply, children need to be able to hear the sounds in words. For example:
1. Do “cat” and “dog” rhyme? (Answer: No, they do not end with the same sound.)
2. What is the first sound in the word “rabbit”? (Answer: /r/.)
3. How many syllables do you hear when you clap out the word “rodeo”? (Answer: Three – /ro/ /de/ /o/.)
Playing rhyming games is a great way to help your child improve her phonological awareness. Click on the following links to find ideas:
By adding a few new, simple activities to your family routine, you can help your child strengthen her pre-reading skills and boost her reading readiness quickly.
What other ideas would you add? Post them to the comment board below.