When is a child ready to read? How can you tell?
It’s hard to be a parent of a preschooler and not hear the words “reading readiness” frequently. Pre school and Kindergarten teachers, child care providers, developers of software products, people who sell educational toys, – all want to show you how their activities are going to help your child be “ready” to read, and ultimately be a great reader.
Children begin the process of learning to read when they learn to recognize symbols consistently. Letters, numbers, shapes – all these symbols have a name, and children delight in recognizing them and telling you all about it. As they get a little older, they learn sequencing – reciting the alphabet, counting, sorting toys into order, etc. They might not at this stage recognize that a letter has sound, or that a number means a quantity. Sometimes the sequencing is a bit out of order – they might consistently skip a number, or re arrange some letters. They are learning how things are organized, how the basics are grouped.
The next step is to recognize that the symbol has a meaning. They know that the number one means just one single solitary item, number two means add one more, and so on. They know that letter A in their alphabet books goes with a picture of an apple, B goes with bat and ball – and they connect the initial sound to the letter.
Along with all this, they learn that adults read for pleasure and information. Story time is absolutely vital in preschools, child care settings, and in any home. Stories, both told and read, teach our children to love language. No video, no software can totally substitute for this, although there are many good videos and dvds for young children.
Beginning readers have the ability to recognize not just individual letters, but letter groups which make “sight words”. Reading is certainly one area where success breeds success, and when a child actually recognizes a word and knows what it says, they are hungry for more!
Songs, stories, word games, rhymes, playtime, pretend – all part of the playtime of young children, and all a vital part of developing the skills they will need to learn to read.