How do I know when my child is ready to start reading?

Do you think your little one is ready to begin reading for real?  When I say “for real” I mean not what I call “pre-reading”  which is where they recite books they’ve memorized.  That is a very important step but this time we’re going to be dealing with those kids that have already been memorizing for a while.

Here are a few signs that your child is ready to start reading:

They can recognize ALL of their letters, upper and lowercase.  This may seem unnecessary to some but trust me it is really difficult to teach a child the sounds letters make if they don’t know their letters.  It is also really difficult to ask a child to sound out a word if they don’t know the letters in the word.  Most kids get “b” and “d” mixed up from time to time so that’s not an issue.

They know most of the sounds the letters make.  Just the basics are enough for right now.  You will teach them blends and so on as they progress.

They should be able to write most of their letters.  This isn’t mandatory but writing things is one great way to help your child remember the words.  If they can’t write their letters yet.  It would be a better use of your time to work on those.  Though you can teach both together but it will take longer.

They are interested.  This truly is vital.  Just because you are interested doesn’t mean you can teach your little one to ready.  They have to be ready AND willing.  Without the skills and interest, it isn’t going to happen and you just might accidentally teach him/her that reading it NOT fun.  That’s hard to undo.  Trust me!

These are the things that I look for when introducing actual reading to someone.  My daughter was three years old when she decided to start reading.  I have also taught kids with special needs to read and believe me, these are essential to the reading process.

The most important thing to remember when teaching your little one anything is that you need to have a tremendous amount of patience.  If you begin to get frustrated please stop and take a break.  Remember that this is a very difficult task for your child.  Sometimes they seem like they aren’t trying.  If that’s true, pull back and let them lead you for a while.  If you make learning fun then your child will be a life long learner.  If you make is a negative experience, your child’s future teachers will be fighting against that idea for your child’s entire school career.

In later posts I will give you ideas for making reading and pre-reading fun for your kids and for you.