Reading is the gateway to learning, but it doesn’t come at one specific age. Instead, you should look for signs of reading readiness that develop over time.
In America, we often force children to learn how to read before they are fully ready. While some kids can read at four years old, others may not be ready until closer to seven. Each of your children will be ready to read at a different age. Instead of focusing on his age, watch for these signs:
1. Print Awareness
Print awareness is when your child understands that the print on the page represents a word that is spoken. There are a few ways to encourage print awareness such as:
- Show him how to hold a book correctly.
- Teach him to read front to back and left to right.
- Allow your child to turn pages during reading time.
- Point out words in real life such as food containers and signs.
2. Letter Knowledge
One clear sign that your child is ready to read is when he recognizes the letters of the alphabet, as well as their name and sounds. Learning letters is a big deal. Some kids do better by learning their sounds first. Here are some tips.
- Sing the alphabet song each day, pointing to a chart if you have one!
- Try daily activities to recognize uppercase and lowercase letters.
- Put up refrigerator magnets or use foam letters in the tub.
- Point out the sounds each letter makes.
3. Phonological Awareness
With phonological awareness, your child will be able to hear and identify different sounds in spoken words. It seems like a big task, but your child will develop it naturally. There are some activities that help to develop phonological awareness.
- Read nursery rhymes and practice rhyming words together.
- Clap to rhyming games like Pat-a-Cake.
- Make up silly songs with rhyming words, especially if it is about something that interests your child.
- Pick up some rhyming books like Five Little Monkeys or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
4. Listening Comprehension
I know you are thinking “my child definitely hasn’t mastered this skill.” Listening comprehension has nothing to do with behavior. Rather, it is the ability to understand the words heard and related to them. Children with better listening comprehension tend to have a larger vocabulary. There are so many ways to encourage this readiness skill.
- Make sure you read to your child daily starting at a young age.
- Ask your child to narrate the story, or part of the story, back to you. Ask questions about what the characters may be thinking or feeling throughout the story. You are reading WITH your child, not TO your child.
- Read books yourself! You can’t tell your children to read a lot unless you do so as well.
- Listen to audio books on car rides.
- Attend story times at the library.
The best indicator of reading readiness is interest. Does your child want to read? If not, continue reading daily, and soon it will come.