How Early Is Too Early To Introduce Your Child To Reading?
With new products coming out making claims that your child will learn how to read before she even walks, the question must be asked: how early is too early to introduce your child to reading? Is your 9 month old lagging behind because you haven’t been doing ABC flash cards with him or is your 3 year old behind the curve because she can’t sing along with the alphabet song on Sesame Street? We’ll give some general guidelines for reading readiness, as well as discuss what to expect, and when you should seek extra help.
Depends on the child
As with many things when it comes to hitting milestones, the answer to this question depends on the child in question. There is quite a range when it comes to reading skills acquisition. While one child may be identifying letters at 18 months and sounding out words on store signs by age 4, another might not learn how to identify letters until they start pre-k and not sound out words until 1st grade, and that’s ok. Follow your child’s lead. If your child is showing an interest early on, it’s good to encourage him or her. If not, your child will pick up the necessary skills when he or she reaches school age. Of course, it’s best to follow up at home to reinforce what’s learned at school and spot any issues or struggles your child may be having.
What age should a child be able to read?
So, for those that would still like some general idea of what to work on with your child and when, let’s go over some major milestones in the process of reading readiness. Pre-reading skills can be acquired in the infant and toddler years. Singing the ABCs to your older baby/toddler is a great way to introduce them to the alphabet. Does reading to your child make a difference? It most certainly can. Reading stories introduces them to the concept of the love of reading. As they get older, talk about letter sounds and what words begin with which letters. As they enter pre-k (around age 4), they will be learning letter recognition and sounds as well. In kindergarten (around age 5), reading usually begins in earnest, with kids learning “sight words” (words that kids memorize rather than sound out). This is usually supplemented with phonics learning (learning vowel blends and sounding out words). Children typically don’t reach the fluent reading stage until 3rd grade or higher.
When to seek out help
By the time your child is expected to identify letters and letter sounds, and read, they will be in school, so you’ll have guidance from his or her teachers on the subject. But, there are a few things to keep an eye out for while working If you find that your child is struggling with reading and falling behind his or her peers. By about first grade, if your child is confusing one letter for another, mixing up letter sounds while reading, skipping words while reading, or frequently guessing at an unknown word rather than sounding it out, bring up your concerns with his or her teacher. Their teacher can help with strategies to improve their reading skills, or get specialized reading help if more is needed.
As you’ll see with many milestones in your child’s life, there is such a wide range of what’s normal. It’s never too early to try to instill a love of reading in your child, but don’t rush things with your child unless you see a true early interest.
For more insight into kids’ health and wellness issues, check out our blog section.