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Please note that Language, Listening, and Writing Skills contribute to the development of reading readiness. Learning to read will be difficult if these skills are not present. There are also other skills and abilities which must be developed along the way. Remember: the single most important thing you can do to prepare your child for school is to read to them every day.

Before learning to read, your child needs to:

Be exposed to written words in the environment and in written materials.
  • Point out words in the environment on walks or trips in the car.
  • Have a well stocked library, either through purchase or from the library. Give your child books as gifts.
  • Point out words in books as you read to your child.
  • Let your children see you read for pleasure or necessity each day.
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: Go to Beantime Stories to find descritpions, age recomendations and links to our twenty-two original stories.
Develop a love for books through being read to and seeing others read.
  • Read to your child each day and let him/her see you reading other material (books for pleasure, cookbooks, newspapers, etc.)
  • Read predictable books that the children can "read" back to you (predictable books have a repeating phrase or refrain - examples are: The Gingerbread Man and It Looked Like Spilt Milk).
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: Our story, But That Wasn't The Best Part is a good example of a predictable book.
  • Take your child to the library every few weeks.
  • Consider purchasing a few books on CD or download so your child can listen to them whenever they want and can practice turning pages and keeping up with a story.
  • Record stories with your phone, video camera, or a recordable book such as those sold by Hallmark.
  • Let your child dictate original stories to you and reread them to him/her often.
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: Use Story Starters found at the Young Writers Workshop to encourage dictation and original story telling
Be exposed to the rhythm of the language. This will help them read with some animation in their voice instead of just a monotone. It also helps them develop rhyming skills.
  • Read nursery rhymes to your child.
  • Use finger plays. Finger play books are available at your library. These have the added bonus of helping to strengthen those finger muscles.
  • Share music with strong rhythms and songs with rhyming lines.
  • Play a variety of music during the day.
  • Play classical music during nap time. Mozart is especially good for development of time and space concepts and thinking skills in the brain.
Develop good eye-hand coordination and visual discrimination.
  • Make collages with your child and draw with them.
  • Provide stencils for them to trace.
  • Cut shapes from play dough and then let your child trace around them.
  • Have a box full of different sizes and colors of toy cars for him/her to sort.
  • Play a game which involves crawling in some way (good crawlers make good readers).
  • Make or buy a fishing game where children can fish for a certain color or size of fish or a certain shape of fish (they can also fish for shoes, vegetables, etc.).
  • Throw and catch balls with your child.
  • Set up an empty plastic soda bottle bowling alley.
  • String beads, macaroni, etc.
  • Buy a simple set of lacing cards. lace the cards together.
  • Let your child practice cutting with supervision.
  • Riding a tricycle or scooter helps develop coordination.
  • Putting together puzzles is excellent for developing these skills. and thinking skills.
  • Drop clothespins into a wide-mouthed jar.
  • Play lots of sorting games (sort socks in the laundry; sort knives, forks, and spoons; sort leaves you pick up on a walk: sort crayons, Duplos or Legos by color).
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITIES: Sort pumpkins or leaves by size, shape, or color.
Develop tracking skills. You can work on these skills with your child. Tracking in reading is the ability to follow a line of type across a page from left to right and from the top of the page to the bottom.
  • Read to your child daily and let them see you tracking (use your finger to point as you read).
  • Provide lots of books and the time for your child to explore them.
  • Patterning activities help develop tracking skills.
    Make patterns with beads or blocks and have your child copy your pattern, then you copy patterns he/she makes.
    Play hopscotch and hop through the pattern of the game.

  • Outside, point out birds or airplanes for them to track across the sky.
  • ONLINE ACTIVITIES: Arrange birds or pumpkins to make patterns or sequences).
Become cognitively ready to read (through comprehension skills, problem solving abilities, reasoning skills, and recall abilities).
  • Help your child develop comprehension skills by discussing a story together before you read it: look at the cover - make a prediction about what might happen in the book, and then after you read it talk about whether the prediction came true.
  • After you read a story, ask questions about it to the child to see if they understood.
  • Ask your child riddles to develop thinking ability. Related ONLINE ACTIVITIES: Ask Animal Riddles or Transportation Riddles.
  • Help your child develop problem solving abilities by
    Asking probing questions about how or why they made or did something and how they could do it differently next time.
    Encouraging your child to find many ways to accomplish a task.
    Working puzzles together at increasing levels of difficulty.

  • Reasoning skills must also be developed and you can do this at home...
    Using simple mazes, puzzles, block building, simple board or card games. Using recall activities like asking your child to recall the events in a day. Explaining what you are doing and why things happen the way they do.
Be physically ready to read - you can help by...
  • Making sure your child is getting enough rest each night.
  • Encouraging (but do not force) your child to eat and to try new foods.
  • Making sure your child gets enough physical exercise each day. Exercise with them. You will both be glad you did.
  • Keeping up with physical and dental check-ups.
Build a large and expanding vocabulary.
  • Talk to and listen to your child often.
  • Introduce new words whenever you can and play word games together.
  • Explain what you are doing and why things happen the way they do (broaden their knowledge through language).
  • Talk, talk, talk to your child and listen, listen, listen to what they say and ask.
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: Try our playful method of introducing new words. See: Word Puppies. Use our sample lesson about Alaska and create some of your own.
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: Introduce the words for Spatial Concepts and Opposites with our playful illustrations.

When the above skills have been acquired your child will:

Begin to recognize letters and you can help by...
  • Working with your child to find and name letters when they show an interest.
  • Looking at and talking about the letters in your child's name.
  • Playing letter lotto (a Bingo type game using letters).
  • Looking for the letter in words in a book.
  • Looking for the letter around the room.
  • Do pattern poems with words using that letter.
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: Learn to recognize letters through visits to the Alphabet Soup Cafe.
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: Learn to recognize letters "at work" in words and sentences in Missing Letter/Busy Letter.
Hear the sound and connect it with the letter.
  • Look for a chosen letter in the words of a story and say those words together.
  • Encourage your child to make the sound of the letter.
  • Hang up a paper with a letter written at the top and that day record all of the spoken words in which you hear the sound of that letter.
  • Play letter lotto (a Bingo type game using letters).
  • Read alphabet books together and emphasize the sounds of the letters.
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: Type letters on an egg to create words with a chosen letter. Speak the words to hear the sound of that letter (example: R as used n rat, far, and or).
Realize letters form words.
  • As you read to your child point out individual words and repeating words.
  • Find repeating phrases in predictable books and point them out to your child.
  • Use file cards to write a word on each card. For example, write "cat" on two cards and "bat" on two other cards. Now you have two matching sets. Mix them up and have the child make matches.
  • Read alphabet books together and talk about the words.
  • Find known words in other books.
Realize sounds combine to make words.
  • Read pattern poems (the same word repeats in every line) and sound out the letters in the repeating word.
  • Read books with only one word to a picture and sound out the word.
  • Use word cards so the child can use the picture to make the sounds of the letters.
  • Read stories with lots of sound words like Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?.
  • Read alphabet books.
Realize a word says the same thing each time you see it.
  • Reread favorite stories so your child will get the idea words remain the same.
  • Reread stories your child has told you and you have written down.
  • Look for the same word in another sentence and read that sentence aloud. Ask your child to pick out the matching word. That will help them realize that any certain word will always contain the same letters.
  • In the car, read billboards, building signs, and traffic signs.
Realize words go together to form sentences.
  • Point out to your child that each word has a space between it and the next word.
  • Read to your child, point out sentences, and pause between sentences.
Improve his/her abilities to read through practice and positive feedback.
  • Encourage all efforts to read, even a simple retelling of a story.
  • Go to the library together often and let your young reader pick out books he/she is interested in reading.
  • Sit with your child and listen to him/her read.
  • Related ONLINE ACTIVITY: See our Book Reviews and Recommendations.

Parent's Guide
Language Skills
Listening Skills
Writing Skills
Reading Skills
Social Skills
Thinking Skills
Math Skills

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1998, 2018, Susan Jindrich. All rights reserved.
... ... Type on an egg Recognize Letters Alphabet Soup Cafe Opposites Spatial Concepts Word Puppies Transportation Riddles Animal Riddles Sort Birds Sort Leaves Pumpkins Story Starters Best Part Beantime Stories
Downloadable versions of the following activities are available through the Meddybemps Store. These are for use without a computer and are optimized for printing. Many include additional material.
Story Starters
Animal Riddles
Spatial Concepts