Tips and Tools To Help Children Become Ready to Learn to Read

Leading authorities in developmental psychology and education report that children who have mastered reading readiness skills find themselves better prepared for scholastic success than children who have not mastered the basics of reading. But what, exactly, is reading readiness?

In the view of many experts, reading readiness includes:

"The teachable moment for reading: A point in time when the pupil is ready to learn how to read." (See Dechant, Emerald. 1991.Understanding and teaching reading: An interactive model. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.)

"A transition extending over several months during which time the child (student) gradually changes from a non-reader to a beginning reader. In this case the readiness program couples the (student's) past learning with new learning and brings the (student), gradually, through the transition." (From Clay, M. M. 1992. Becoming literate: The construction of inner control. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.)

The Ready to Read Child

Simply put, reading readiness is the point at which a child is academically, emotionally, and mentally prepared to read. Being ready to read means that the child has the skills that he or she needs to understand the concepts of reading. It also means that the child is able to comprehend what he or she reads.

The point of early literacy programs is that they prepare children to read. In the homeschooling environment, this means reading to young children, sharing verbal stories with children to spark their imaginations, and setting a good example for children by reading yourself.

Interestingly, early literacy, or reading readiness, is often a "program" that comes naturally, especially to the parent that emphasizes the importance of education. Many home school educators believe that learning is a lifelong process and that preparing children to learn is as important as the act of learning itself. For this reason, reading readiness is a process that occurs rather naturally within the homeschooling environment.

Preparing Children to Read

There are several strategies that can help parents and home school educators prepare young children to read. Most importantly, children need to have access to reading material. From colorful and entertaining early reader books, to television shows that include simple text reading opportunities, and even the back of a cereal box, children need to be surrounded by fun opportunities to read.

Reading opportunities present themselves in the oddest of places. Some parents like to play word games with their children while driving. Others help their children prepare to read by locating letters on a page to teach their child letter-recognition. Still others employ traditional methods such as taking the time to read together for a few minutes each day.

Although children appear to be only "looking at the pictures" when reading with an adult or older child, they are also inadvertently learning about words, sounds, and sentence structure.

Children also need a great deal of guidance as they learn the basics of reading. Although every parent would like to believe that his or her child is a natural genius, the fact is that even a genius needs help getting started. That's why it's important to make sure that children have help with beginning reading concepts such as phonics and syllabics. Taking the time to sit with a child and read with him or her can make all the difference in the world.


Michael Levy is a well-known teacher and university researcher who has published more than 250 articles about learning. His latest project is Reading Buddy 2.0, software for teaching children to learn to read basic English using the innovative syllabics methodology. Michael invites traditional and home school teachers to explore this new method. Claim your free copy of Reading Buddy 2.0. -->

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