Reading Readiness

16 Jun

Reading Readiness

The other day I heard about the “Your Baby Can Read” infomercial. Out of curiousity I googled this infomercial, and both the mom and the teacher in me wanted to cry.

Has our society really come to this? Are parents really buying this video? Is it necessary for such young children to learn to read? Is placing them in front of a video and using flashcards really the best way to teach children?

Parents want so desperately to give their children a head start in this hyper-competitive world, that I can see how this video/flashcard system can be a moneymaker for its creators.

“You’re forgetting about Reading Readiness! Children will read when they are ready to read! Let babies be babies! Let children be children!”

I am teacher hear me roar.

I’ll back up that roar with some suggestions for Reading Readiness for infants through preschoolers that I’ve learned as both a teacher and a parent.

My guess is they cost a lot less than what any infomercial can sell you.

1. Read to your child. Everyday. It should be an enjoyable activity.

2. It is a wonderful thing when a child wants to hear the same story over and over again. Read it until you have it memorized, and then read it many times more.

3. Talk to your child. Ask your child questions, even when they are too young to answer. (Always pause and give them time to answer.) Tell your child what your are doing. Provide a running commentary as you go about your day. Talk, talk, talk!

4. What difference can following numbers 1,2 and 3 make? Tens of thousands of words! Children are a blank slate, capable of learning ANY language in the world. Just imagine the vocabulary you can teach your child.

5. Sing songs that rhyme. If you can’t sing, then chant nursery rhymes. Rhyming is so important for hearing the ending sounds of words. Many children love silly songs and poems, and may create some of their own.

6. Alliteration is the beginning sounds of words. Find songs or poems with alliteration. Teach them to your children. “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” Children will learn to hear (and feel with their mouth) the beginning sounds of words.

7. Sing the ABC song over and over again. Everyday. You can even use a small chart and point to each letter as you sing it. You would be amazed how many children think that “LMNOP” is one giant letter. Many children think that there is an “N” between Y and Z. 

8. While reading a story to your child, ask questions about the story. “What color is the dog? Do you think the dog will ever get home? What will the dog do next? Did you like the story?” This builds comprehension and vocabulary.

9. If you think your child might not know a word, give it a definition. “Do you know what a spade is?” (Wait a little while for a response, even for non-talkers.) “Spade is another word for shovel. Do you see the spade?” Then point to the picture.

10. When reading a story follow the words with your finger. Left to right, return sweep, top to bottom, front to back. Let your child help to turn the page.

11. Talk about the front and back of the book. Talk about the author and illustrator. Are the pictures drawn, painted, colored or are the pictures photographs? This helps build print awareness.

12. Let children see you reading books, recipe books, magazines, and newspapers. Take children to the library. They will be able to see that words are important to you.

13. Talk about the print all around you. There is environmental print everywhere. You find print on cereal boxes, snack bags, signs and toys. The possibilities are endless, and this is another opportunity for print awareness.

14. Remember that letter identification and letter sounds will be learned when the time is right. Each child who can learn, will learn when they are ready. 

15. Relax, read a book, and have a conversation.

Children grow up too fast, so let’s stop pushing the fast forward button.

Mrs. V


11 Responses to “Reading Readiness”

  1. Cheryl Ingalls June 17, 2009 at 6:49 am #

    I agree with you completely,Mrs. V!!!

  2. RC June 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    I think you and I talked about this, but some of Little Dude’s teachers and I were talking about the “Your Baby Can Read” system the one morning.

    As I’ve shared in the past, I was horrified since I’m a big believer in free play, traditional methods of learning (repetition, fun and using the basics) and of not forcing your child to spit canned information back at you.

    Thankfully, Little Dude’s teachers are similar in thought. They were sharing some of the flaws they had noticed in the testing they had helped to facilitate for the 4K classes.

    One of the examples – the children kept failing the same question over and over. Prior to being four, the test expected them to be able to tell you what their “heel” was. When the teachers pointed to the heel, children repeatedly gave the answers, “shoe, foot, toes, leg, etc,” as they were prompted for more detail. Really? Do our children need to know all the details by age four?

    We read, we sing, we rhyme, we make-up silly stories and songs, we play, we discuss colors and shapes, etc… My child can tell you about his elbows, knees, shoulders, pits, etc. But he will get marked-down if he doesn’t know specific details. At four.

    The teachers don’t like it. The parents feel the pressure. I know why this system appeals to so many.

  3. ChiTown Girl June 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm #

    Wow! I couldn’t agree with you more!! I thought I was the only one appalled by that program! I used to think every parent did all those things you listed, since my mother did them with us, and I naturally did them with my son. But, my years in the inner city have proved otherwise. It’s really very sad.

  4. Mamie June 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    RIGH ON Ms. V! I’m spreading your gospel far and wide (via Digg, Facebook, and Twitter) – I want EVERYONE I know to read this post!

  5. debra June 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    I don’t have children but I love this post. I love the idea of learning as you stepped it out. Not everything has to be as difficult as marketers would lead us to believe. 🙂

  6. teach5 June 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    If you want a good read, “Boys Adrift – the five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men” by Leonard Sax

  7. Julie June 18, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    I agree with you! … Sometimes I think that some parents just want their kids to learn to read sooner so that they can feel like they are better parents or like their kids are better… Whatever! … Let kids be kids, because they are going to be adults for a long time (hopefully).

  8. Debbie June 21, 2009 at 7:02 am #

    Amen Amen Amen

  9. Dan Gurney June 29, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    I hope your 15 points spread far and wide. Childhood is a journey to savor, not a race to finish as fast as possible. I saw the little video on the website selling the baby reading program, and like you, I filled with sadness for the people involved. Babies—especially—need love, attention, and acceptance, not reading lessons.

  10. Tracy December 11, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    Beautiful. Nothing better than the written word. I think I’ve read Ezra Jack Keats’ “The Snowy Day” at least a dozen times in the past three days. Naomi comes to me: “Day” she says and hands me the book. Each of my kids have a copy in their room… my husband is sick to death of reading. I might never stop. In fact, I’m thrilled that my kids love something just as much as I do.


  1. 2010 in review « Don’t put boogers in your neighbor’s cereal… - January 2, 2011

    […] Reading Readiness June 2009 10 comments 4 […]

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