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Reading Readiness: The Top 5 Skills

Young girl looking at book

Did you know that there are five skills your child should master before you begin formal reading instruction? Because these reading readiness skills are so important, we call them The Big Five Skills.

Although much of your child’s learning comes naturally as he plays and experiences life, there are some skills, like reading, that must eventually be taught. That may feel a little scary, but if you’ve taught your child how to pick up his toys or put on his socks, you can teach your child to read, too!

In this post, you’ll learn about the skills for reading readiness, and you’ll discover more than twenty fun ways you can help your preschooler or kindergartner develop in these areas. Let’s dig in!

5 Critical Skills for Reading Readiness

  1. Print Awareness

    Print awareness is the understanding that the print on a page represents words that have meaning and are related to spoken language.

    Open book

    To develop this skill:

    • Help your child learn how to hold a book correctly.
    • As you read books together, emphasize the fact that you’re reading from front to back and from left to right. Let your child turn the pages.
    • As your child helps you in the kitchen, point out the names on the food boxes and cans and the ingredients as you read your recipe.
    • Point out and read road signs and store signs as you travel in the car.
  2. Letter Knowledge

    Letter knowledge enables a child to recognize the letters of the alphabet and to know the names and sounds of each.

    Friendly letter A

    To develop this skill:

  3. Phonological Awareness

    It’s a big term, but it’s really quite basic. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and identify the various sounds in spoken words.

    Dog with perked ear

    To develop this skill:

    • Read lots of nursery rhymes and rhyming picture books together. Encourage your child to anticipate rhyme as you read together.
    • Play clapping and rhyming games like Miss Mary Mack and Pat-a-Cake.
    • Sing silly songs by changing the first sound in some of the words. For example, sing, “Bingle bells, bingle bells, bingle all the bay,” or “If you’re chappy and you chow it, chap your chands.”
    • Play games that encourage children to identify words that begin with a specific letter sound. For example, say, “I spy with my little eye a color that starts with /r/.”
  4. Listening Comprehension

    Listening comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning of words heard and to relate to them in some way. A child with good listening comprehension has a wide vocabulary and a growing understanding of the world around him.

    To develop this skill:

    • Read aloud to your children daily. Read books that are in line with your child’s interests so he begins to realize that there is a benefit to learning to read.
    • Encourage even young children to interact with books.
    • Attend story time at the library.
    • Let your child see you enjoying books.
    • Make read-aloud time an enjoyable shared time. Here are some picture book lists to get you started.
  5. Motivation to Read

    Motivation to read is a child’s eagerness and willingness to read.

    Smiling cartoon boy

    To encourage your child:

    • Read both fiction and nonfiction books to your child.
    • As you read, ask open-ended questions. For example, ask “What do you think is going to happen when we turn the page?” or “Why did the boy go outside?”
    • Use everyday life experiences to build your child’s vocabulary.
    • Encourage imaginative play and storytelling.
  6. Determine if Your Child Is Ready to Read

    Have you been working to help your child develop these important pre-reading skills? If so, it’s very possible that your child is ready to begin formal reading instruction. But if you’re not sure whether your child is ready, complete this checklist to measure your child’s reading readiness:

    Download graphic for Reading Readiness Checklist - click to download

    After completing this checklist, you’ll be able to identify the pre-reading skills that your child still needs to work on. The All About Reading Pre-reading program makes it easy to fill in the gaps and get your child ready to read. Is your child already ready to read? If so, All About Reading Level 1 is the perfect starting point!

    One Final Note

    I’m a strong believer in letting kids be kids and not pushing academics too early. But I also know from extensive experience that most kids don’t develop reading readiness skills on their own. The All About Reading Pre-reading program strikes a good balance. In about 15 minutes per day (depending on your child’s attention span and abilities), this easy-to-use curriculum helps children develop all five of the Big Five Skills. The program includes crafts, rhyming and word games, alphabet charts, and lots of playful activities. And if you’ve never met Ziggy, you’re in for a treat!

    The majority of a young child’s day should be filled with play, real-life activities, and physical exploration. Add in just a touch of daily intentional instruction in these five reading readiness areas, and your child will have a huge advantage when it comes time to read.

    Do you have questions about reading readiness? Post in the comments below or contact us!

    Photo credit: Rachel Neumann

    reading readiness pinterest graphic

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Morgan

says:

Such great information!!!

CARLA MARTINS CARVALHO

says:

Informações muito importantes para compreendermos e realizarmos atividades correspondentes para que os alunos alcancem os objetivos.

Kristina

says:

I am excited to start this program with my son. He watches his older sister learn and he wants to learn as well. Your website has so many awesome ideas and tips. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Kristina. It’s great to capture a little one’s desire to learn while still keeping it appropriate for his abilities. I’m glad our website can help you.

Mary Goosev

says:

Good info. Would like to learn tips to help a child who reverses some of the letters.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
We have a blog post on How to Solve Letter Reversals that I think you will find helpful. It details the reversals letters b and d, but the tips will apply to any letters. Let me know if you need help coming up with an analogy for other letter pairs or need further help.

Korina P

says:

This is very helpful for my kindergartener. She is struggling with phonemic awareness and I think using these skills and the checklist provided will help me teach her during this time of home learning.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was helpful fo you, Korina. If you haven’t seen it already, we have an entire blog post dedicated to Fun Ways to Develop Phonological Awareness that includes printables and activities for learning these skills.

Let me know if you need anything else.

Edith Allen

says:

I am so excited to try this on my great- grand son as they day care is closed.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Edith,
Our blog is very full of games, crafts, healthy snack recipes, and other activities for helping little ones be ready for having success with reading and spelling. Check out our Preschool Archives and our Free Resources!

And if there is something specific you are looking for or have questions, just ask!

Radhika

says:

Really nice ..I want a activities and worksheets for English Readiness programme for grade 1:to grade 7

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Radhika,
We have numerous resources for a reading and spelling for a wide range of ages and grades. Check out this recent blog post that brings so many of them into on place. Kids Stuck Inside? Check Out Our FREE Boredom Busters!

Tricia

says:

My 2-yr-old thinks he’s ready to start. (He’s not.) He loves it when I let him have leftover cards from his big sisters’ packets and anything with letters or letter sounds is an instant favorite. But the preschool level is on my long-term wish list for a couple years down the road.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love that your little one is so eager, Tricia!

Have you seen our How to Teach the Alphabet to Preschoolers blog post? While your 2-year-old isn’t ready to start, there are letter printables and activities on that post that he may have fun playing with.

Tricia

says:

Wow! I hadn’t seen that one, but I just checked it out. Building blocks like duplos are another of his favorites, and he’d love a set of fabric letters. (And his 9-yr-old sister would love to help make them 3 dimensional with her sewing machine!) I’m going to need to bookmark the post to keep referring to throughout the next year or so. He just turned 2 last month, so a lot of the ideas he’s still growing into.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you found something useful there, Tricia! 😊

Ramonda Ehrhardt

says:

Very well done. Easy for parents to understand and use.

Kelly Thompson

says:

These points are super important and really helpful.

Jill Mansfield

says:

These are such great tips and ideas.

Sarah

says:

So important!

Eliza

says:

Thanks! This is very useful in helping me to determine if my child is ready to read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Eliza. 😊

Rachel

says:

We love AAR and AAS!

Kristine Bingham

says:

Thank you for all the wonderfully helpful ideas. I dont know what I’d do without them.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Kristine. If you ever have questions or need something not on the blog, just ask!

Sonal

says:

Thank you for the fantastic resources

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Sonal. 😊

Dana Schneeflock

says:

So excited to try a new spelling curriculum with my kiddos!

Vickie

says:

Thank you for all of the great resources you provide!

Omolayo Ayodele Mary

says:

Thanks may almighty God bless you bountiful I enjoyed the passage

sulueti

says:

I need these to help me assess the children with and without special needs in our inclusive schoool

Angie Sexton

says:

I have used pre-level 1 for 6 children. I love the AAR and AAS programs because they are an easy open-and-teach program. It helps with these 5 Reading Readiness Steps. I have one suggestion make sure you invest in a set of alphabet flash cards or make your own, with one set of uppercase and one set of lowercase. Going through them really helps the letter recognition #2 step. AAR can you start including flash cards in the program? I felt like this was one missing part. Thanks

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I will pass your suggestion along, Angie. Thank you.

However, our Top 10 Activities for Letter Knowledge blog post has a few downloadables that include fun activities with both upper and lowercase letters. The Feed the Puppy one is a huge favorite!

Nakimbugweb betty

says:

Wow your teaching has helped me to pass my paper of language development in young children. Thank you very much

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome! Congratulations on your paper.

Sheila Hensley

says:

Wow!! I have taught over 30 years and have moved back to PreK from first grade. Your materials are wonderful!!! Thank you for the free downloads. I love your Ziggy puppet. So cool!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Sheila. 😊

Deborah Oche

says:

Hello
Am grateful l came along this website. Am a preschool teacher that is looking for easy ways to teach my students pre_reading skills.l will be glad with any
information to help achieve these goals.
thanks

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sure thing, Deborah! We have lots and lots of Preschool focused blog posts with lots of activities, printables, crafts, snacks, and more. Check out our Preschool Archive!

Grammie Cindy

says:

Ideas of encouraging our 7 yr old (2nd grade) grandson w reading. Mom has encouraged Youtube and he is very advanced beyond his years, & vocabulary is great! He starts spelling tests this wk & his Dad is very concerned he won’t be able
To keep up—

joan

says:

It’s a big help for me. Thank you for this meaningful information.
Can I ask some question?
What are the reading readiness intervention materials in kindergarten pupils? Or strategic intervention materials to prepare them for reading?
Thank You and More Power!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Joan,
The skills outlined in this blog post are the reading readiness skills needed for any age. Most students master them while preschool aged, but if not they need to work on them in kindergarten. The downloadable games and activities for each of these 5 Reading Readiness Skills will be fun and useful for kindergarten aged students.

I’m not sure what else you are looking for. The only other reading readiness materials we have is our Pre-reading level of All About Reading. Please let me know if you need more information or have further questions.

Meagan Ramer

says:

This is very helpful! Thank you for producing this curriculum! It has helped us tremendously.

abdullahi ringim

says:

this work is very intersecting

Julie Akinyi

says:

What are some of the reasons for developing Reading Readiness Skills in pre primary school children.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Julie,
Reading readiness skills are the skills that little ones need to have the best success when they learn to read. This is from the findings of the National Reading Panel (2000), titled Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction.) This research showed that children that had mastered these skills prior to the start of reading instruction had more success.

It is important for little children to learn these skills, but thankfully they can be taught in fun, social, and active ways that take advantage of play for learning.

Does this answer your question?

Irene ugandan

says:

Am helped greatly

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