There are certain signs that will tell you that your child is ready and interested in reading. Some common signs are:
- Beginning to notice that signs and symbols have meaning, like street signs and logos.
- Aware that marks on a page have meaning. Kids can show this by asking you to read things for them, pretending to read, and pretending to write.
- Starts to hear and recognize sounds that letters make (*technical term: “phonemic awareness”). For example, can answer questions like: what sound do you hear at the beginning of your name (S-S-Sam)?, is the beginning of “sink” the same as the beginning of “Sam”?. Begins to hear the separate phonemes.
- Understands stories and how they work. Can create their own stories. Can talk about beginning, middle and end. Wants to hear stories, be read to, and make up their own stories.
Like with anything, kids may show some of these signs or all of them. Story understanding is sophisticated and may come later for many kids; some have a natural knack and understanding. In fact, reading is like that. Learning to read and being smart have nothing to do with each other. It is a skill. Some kids take longer than others…it’s ok as long as they get there. Pushing too hard too quickly is a great way to make a child hate reading and turn off interest. Without interest, it will be a hard road.
Remember to focus on content and meaning. Kids who learn only phonics tend to “bark” at the text…trying to “sound out” each phoneme, but if they paid attention to meaning they could figure it out quicker and easier.
Go slow and gently—let them lead, but push when you know they are ready for the next step.