Preparing Your Child for Reading Success
November 10, 2012
"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."—Emilie Buchwald
Reading success begins long before your child enters school. What a preschool-age child knows before they enter Kindergarten is strongly related to how easily they will learn to read in first grade. Three predictors of reading achievement are:
- The ability to recognize and name letters of the alphabet
- General knowledge about print (example: understanding which is the front of the book, which is the back, and how to turn the pages)
- Awareness of phonemes (the sounds in words)
Reading aloud together builds these skills and knowledge. "As a result, reading aloud with children is the single most important activity for parents and caregivers to do to prepare children to learn to read." (Adams, 1990)
Parents and caregivers should talk and listen to their children. Having conversations with your child helps build their knowledge of vocabulary, sentence structure, syntax, and reasons for communication—all of which will help them become a better reader. By singing rhymes and playing word games with your child, you are helping them recognize the sounds in words (phonemic awareness).
Also, if you listen carefully to your child, any language, hearing, or speech problems may be identified early so they can receive help and prevent later reading difficulties. Prevention and early intervention programs can increase reading skills for 85 to 90 percent of poor readers. As many as two-thirds of reading disabled children can increase their reading skills to average reading levels if their issues are identified early, and if appropriate action is taken early on (Vellutino et al., 1996; Fletcher & Lyon, 1998).
Poor readers have difficulty understanding that sounds in words are linked to particular letters and letter patterns. This is called the "alphabetic principle." Difficulties with decoding and word recognition are at the core of most reading difficulties. The reason many poor readers don’t grasp the alphabetic principle is because they haven’t developed phonemic awareness. When word recognition isn’t automatic, reading isn’t fluent and comprehension suffers.
Many children learn to read by first grade regardless of the type of instruction they receive. However, the children who don’t grasp it don’t seem to be able to catch up. "More than 88 percent of children who have difficulty reading at the end of first grade display similar difficulties at the end of fourth grade." (Juel, 1988) Furthermore, three-quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school. (Shaywitz et al) This emphasizes the importance of providing a strong foundation for reading from birth through age five.
Research shows that what families do makes a difference. It’s never too early to help kids grasp the concept of reading. "If you just make a commitment to read to them and have them read to you every single day, that’s the best thing you can do." (Nancy Singer, 2009)
Experts agree. The secret to helping your child become an excellent, confident reader is to help your child master each of the following steps:
- Learning to Talk
- Increasing Verbal Vocabulary
- Learning the Alphabet
- Learning Sounds of Letters
- Learning Simple Words
- Increasing Written Vocabulary
- Improving Reading Comprehension
When you have helped your child master these 7 steps, you give them an extraordinary gift and put them on the road to lifelong success and happiness. What more could a parent want?
MCPL invites you to bring your children to storytime and other reading activities at the Library, and we want to remind you of the upcoming Read Aloud 1-2-3 Program held February 16th through March 30th.
North Independence Branch