5 things kids need before they’re ready to READ

photo 1Preparing your child for future reading success is all about the simple things you can do every day — such as fostering a positive learning environment at home, talking to your child about anything and everything, and of course - taking time out to read with your child. Most importantly don't forget to make this part of playtime! Learning should always be FUN!

5 things kids need before they’re ready to READ:

1. Understanding Concepts About Print Your child needs to develop what is called concepts of print, which can easily be accomplished by reading to your children regularly and modeling reading. Your Kids need to see you and others reading on a regular basis. Children need to know how:
  • To hold books correctly and turn pages
  • Understand text is read from left to right
  • Comprehend that each word represents a spoken word
  • How to develop concepts of print
  • Read, read, read, to your child often, and model reading often
  • Introduce books by their title, draw attention to the author and illustrator
  • Make sure some of the books you read have large bold print and point to each word as you read
  • Point out signs in your environment that contain words; the cereal box, an EXIT or road sign, this helps children see that print is all around them
  • Visit the library
photo 2 2. Language Development & Listening Skills As you talk and read to your children, they’ll develop language and listening skills which they need before they can become readers Children need to know how:
  • To retell a familiar story in their own words
  • To engage with a story as you read to them
  • To ask questions and make personal connections
  • To answer simple questions about a story
How to build language and listening skills: 
  • Talk to your child, about anything and everything
  • Ask open-ended questions as you read
  • Ask more “why” and “how” questions than who, what and when
  • Explain unfamiliar vocabulary words as you read
  • Encourage your children to act out their own stories and pretend play
3. Letter Recognition & Alphabetic Principle Letter recognition needs to take place in order to understand the corresponding sounds that letters make. Knowledge of the alphabetic principle refers to an understanding that the letters in written words represent the phonemes in spoken words. Kids need to understand the alphabetic principle in order to build a strong foundation in literacy. Children need to:
  • Recognize both upper and lower case letters
  • Recognize each letter’s name
  • Understand that specific letters have specific sounds
How to teach the alphabet - Children learn the alphabet by playing with the letters, examples:
  • Puzzlesphoto-2
  • Play Dough
  • Matching
  • Patterning
  • I spy games
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Magnetic letters
  • Letter Memory
  • Letter sorting
  • Alphabet snacks
  • Read alphabet books and talk about what you are reading
  4. Phonemic & Phonological awareness

*What is phonemic awareness?

Phonemic awareness is a cognitive skill that refers to the specific ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. Phonemes are the smallest units comprising the spoken language. Phonemes combine to form syllables and words. (Distinct units of sound in a specified language that distinguish one word from another, for example, pbd, and t in the English words padpatbad, and bad.)

*What is phonological awareness?

Phonological awareness refers to an individual’s awareness of sound structure, which is the foundation for spelling and word recognition skills. It’s important because it is one of the best predictors of how well children will learn to read during the first two years of school instruction. Phonological awareness provides the basis for phonics and phonics is the understanding that sounds and print letters are connected. This is the first step towards the act we call reading. Playing with oral language is critical to learning to read. As a society, we often are in a hurry for our children to learn phonics and read books and we skip right over one of the most important stages of early reading— phonological awareness. (Detection and manipulation of sounds at three levels of sound structure: (1) syllables, (2) onsets and rimes, (A is the part of a syllable which consists of its vowel and any consonant sounds that come after it phonemes.) Children need to know how to:
  • Count words
  • Count syllables in words
  • Rhyme
  • Identify the first and last sound in a word, this is more than recognizing the letter
  • Children can begin to put letters together to make a sound
How to promote phonological and phonemic awareness:
  • Read rhyming books
  • Play rhyming games
  • Clap out syllables
  • Play word games, what words start with the letter B? Boy, ball, big, bunny
  • Play with sounds, try putting together sounds to make a word, say  sounds to your child, /f/ and /ish/, now they try and put them together to make fish
  • Use nonsense words to make up your own words using basic phonological awareness
5. Prewriting Skillsphoto-1 All too often, young children are given writing tools to use before they are ready for them. Young children from three to five years of age, use their hands to explore and learn about the environment and themselves. By developing good hand skills and other pre-writing skills you will prepare your child for the next step, which is writing. Children progress from scribbling and drawing to trying to form letters, to finally writing real letters and words. When your child asks you to "read" her scribbles, you know she's aware that speech is represented by symbols (letters of the alphabet). Writing and drawing activities also help her develop fine motor control, as well as imagination and creativity. Pre-writing activities (no pencils required):
  • Make lines, shapes, and letters by finger painting, painting with pudding or shaving cream, painting with water on the sidewalk and even with your fingers in the sand
  • Play shape and letter matching or recognition games
  • Play with puzzles, magnetic letters, and Play-Doh
Here are some ideas for expressing ideas:
  • Have writing and drawing materials easily accessible, include paper in different shapes, colors, and sizes; markers, crayons, pencils
  • Give your child old magazines and pictures to cut and paste to create books, ex. alphabet, colors, animals, shapes, numbers
  • Make books by using photos or drawings and dictating captions  to be written under each picture
Please keep in mind that all children are developmentally different and milestones of any kind are just a guideline. AND, of course, there is a myriad of apps available to help assist in getting children ready to read. Here are some of our highest recommendations: 24x7 digital’s popular TeachMe: Educational apps contain age-appropriate learning topics and motivational reward activities to help your youngster learn quickly and effectively. (edit) Artgig Apps: Alien Buddies - Creative and technical specialists that deliver educational, entertaining and effective learning apps time and again. (edit) Avokiddo: All of Avokiddo's apps are all about playful learning. They believe children learn best when they are engaged, immersed, involved, inspired, motivated, excited! We couldn't agree more. (edit) Grasshopper Apps: They believe that educational apps need to be insanely fun, highly educational and affordable for all. Period. They offer the ultimate learning experience. They’re serious about creating winning apps that users love. (edit) Sago Sago:  All of their preschool apps are designed to encourage exploration with just the use of your finger and where ever your imagination will take you. Great for reading readiness! Also, visit BEST Toddler/Preschool Apps of 2013 & 12 of the BEST Children’s Book Apps! Who else would you like to see on this list? I'm sure we missed plenty of other great reading readiness apps, let us know and we will add them to the list...
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1 Response

  1. Judy Stevens

    I’d like to make a special mention of the Sago Mini Apps – they are specially delightful for preschoolers because there is no narration. Not only do they provide excellent fine motor skill practice but they enable a wide scope for imaginative play.

    Thank you for your ongoing informative reviews of apps for children.