Great Parents - Macomb Newsletter (English, Spanish)

Reading Skills

The following is a list of six pre-reading skills that children can start developing to help them become independent readers.

1)  Enjoyment of books:  This is a child’s interest in books and reading. 

  • Don’t stop reading aloud to your child once he or she knows how to read.  If the child has siblings, still try to set aside some one-on-one time for reading with each child.

  • If you haven’t done so already, let your child get his or her own library card.  Make each trip to the library a fun family outing.  Get a special “library bag” and allow your child to select some books independently.

  • Have your child read to a dog!  Check out one of our PAWS For Reading programs at CMPL.  Check out our PAWS page for upcoming dates and times.  

2)  Word knowledge:  This is knowing the names of things.   Most children enter school knowing between 3,000 and 5,000 words.

  • Read books that contain new vocabulary words.

  • Incorporate some nonfiction books in your reading routine.  Choose books about a subject that interests your child.

  • Now is a great time to purchase or check out a beginning dictionary.  Help your child look up an unfamiliar word.

3) Sound awareness:  This is ability hear and manipulate smaller sounds in words. 

  • Most children who have difficulty reading have trouble with this skill.  Some good indications that your child understands sound combinations include:  the ability to tell whether two words rhyme or not; taking words chunks apart and putting them together -- for example, putting together “butter” and “fly” to make the new word “butterfly; and playing with beginning sounds in different word families -- for example, by changing the beginning sounds for “-at”, you can make “bat,” “sat,” and so on.

  • Play fun word games with your child that encourage rhyming or finding words by their beginning sound.  Use alphabet blocks, magnet letters, or a small chalkboard to play these games.

  • Sing with your child.  Songs and music help children with rhythm and hearing the syllables in words.

  • Play with the “letter families.”  Have the child change the beginning letter of a word to make a new word.  Example: change the “p” in pat to “m” to make mat.

4)  Print awareness:  This means noticing words everywhere, knowing how to handle and book and knowing how to follow words on a page. An example of this is a child pointing out words in print or noticing words on signs they see in stores, etc.

  • As you read aloud to your child, point to text in the book, especially when there is a repeated line in the story. 

  • Read the title, author, and illustrator of the book before you read the story to help the child learn parts of a book.

  • Point out signs in the environment and read them aloud.  For example, you can help your child notice billboards, cereal boxes, lists or the print on their board games.

5)  Verbal skills :  This is being able to understand and tell stories and describe things.  This is an important skill for reading comprehension.

  • Have your child tell you what happened that day, such as a trip to the park or events at school or day care.

  • After you read a book together, have the child retell it in his or her own words.

  • Other creative ways to retell a story would be to use puppets, props or dolls.  The child can also draw a picture of an event from the story.

6)  Letter knowledge:   This is when the child learns each letter has a name and each letter makes at least one specific and unique sound.  Keep in mind that children usually identify uppercase letters quickly, and the lowercase letters come later. 

  • Play fun alphabet games together.  Examples would include letter bingo or letter memory.  Purchase inexpensive alphabet games from a learning supply store or toy store.  Another option is to make your own using index cards or a web site with printable resources.

  • Continue to read alphabet books.  Choose easy readers that focus on one beginning sound or a word family such as the “sound box” series by Jane Moncure.  

  • Try to make different letters out of clay or play-doh. Have some fun in the kitchen and make letter cookies!

Literacy milestones for children at age five provided by Reading Rockets.

Literacy milestones for children in first grade provided by Reading Rockets.

Literacy development for children ages 5 and 6  provided by PBS parents.

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