Because education is so important, and reading is a primary facet of education, a readiness for reading is important. Want to know where your littles stand? We asked Dr. Steve Truch, former school psychologist and founder of The Reading Foundation for a few tips. Truch strongly believes schools need to offer more support for special education for those who require it. He also believes boards need to do more to support science-based teaching techniques. His experience as both a school administrator, as well as a learning advocate, makes him uniquely qualified on the subject.
Tips on assessing your littles’ reading readiness:
Pre-schoolers and early grade 1:
1. Does your child know the names of the letters of the alphabet?
- Knowing the letters of the alphabet is strongly associated with early reading readiness. Keep working on this with your child in a fun way.
2. Does your child know any sounds associated with the alphabet letters?
- Knowing the connection between letters and sounds so the process of “sounding out” words is extremely important.
3. Does your child show an interest in books?
- An interest in books helps cultivate a love of reading.
4. Does your child like when you read to them?
- Most children enjoy this activity. If your child does not, it is a big “red flag.”
5. Does your child know how to segment a word you say into its sounds?
- This skill is an extremely important step on the road to becoming a reader.
- Children need to be taught explicitly the sounds within a word. Here is an example using the word “dog”:
- Print the letters for “dog” in large upper case on a card. DOG
- Ask your child to name the letters. If they can’t go back to just teaching letter names. If they can, then your child that each letter represents a sound in the word. The first sound in the word “dog” is /d/. (Try not to say /du/ because that is two sounds. Ask your child to put their finger on the letter “D” and repeat the sound. Do the same for the other two letters. If three letters is too much, try it with a two letter word such as “at.”
- Once your child gets the idea, extend this activity to other words. Keep them engaged as long as they show interest. Gradually increase the number of letters in each word. Try to avoid words, at this stage, that contain letter combinations for a sound. So a word like “boat,” which contains three sounds, has four letters because “oa” represents one sound. Many pre- schoolers will have difficulty with this concept. If your child doesn’t, then rejoice.
6. Does your child know how to blend sounds they hear into words?
- This activity is the opposite of the segmenting activity above.
- Say the following sounds individually — /i/,/n/. Ask your child if they can tell you what word those sounds make. If your child can do this, try the same activity with three sounds or more (depending on their success).
7. If your child knows a few words, be sure they understand the relationship between the letters and sounds of that word. Memorizing words by “sight” alone is not the best way to build your child’s reading.
If you are in doubt or have concerns about your child’s reading, you may want to get them professionally assessed.