It is critical to identify a child’s reading problems before he or she fails. Even some children whom one might suspect do not need early assessment and monitoring should have it just the same. Some exceptionally bright children, for example, may learn to read early on and just skip over learning phonologic skills. These children memorize a lot of words very easily and quickly build a large reading vocabulary. Because these children are simply memorizing words without learning how to analyze them and break them apart, invariably there will come a point in time when they cannot decipher new, relatively long words, especially technical words, as in the sciences (Herbivore, Polynomial, Photosynthesis), or names of people or places in history or around the world (Picasso, Timbuktu, Kathmandu).
Without a foundation in phonological skills, these children will not have any strategies to deal with them. It is therefore best to ensure that all children’s basic phonologic skills are assessed right at the beginning and that they receive early and intensive instruction if necessary.
Here is a checklist to help you determine where your child is on the path to reading by the end of kindergarten.
- Knows that spoken words come apart and that letters represent these sounds.
- Easily names the letters of the alphabet, both uppercase and lowercase.
- Writes the letters of the alphabet.
- Can sound out the letters of the alphabet – both uppercase and lowercase.
- Can decode simple sound matches.
- Can decode simple 3 and 4 letter words.
- Uses invented spellings.
- Recognizes some common sight words.
- Knows about print conventions – reading from left to right, from the top of the page to the bottom.
- Has a growing vocabulary
- LOVES to read and looks forward to reading out loud.
First grade is one of the most important for a child on the road to reading. This is the crucial year where hopefully your child has broken the reading code. First grade builds on the foundation provided in kindergarten. Most children enter first grade ready to read. They leave first grade as “real readers.” Keep in mind that these major accomplishments don’t occur by chance; they are only made possible by well -structured and systematic reading instruction. If your child has the above-mentioned skills, then he or she is off to a running start in reading!
Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder and Director of Pride Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at email@example.com or visit the Pride Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com