Helping a child learn to read is one of the greatest joys for many parents. There is nothing more magical, fulfilling or rewarding than watching your child finally read their first few sentences fluently and entirely on their own.
Your child will learn to read at their own pace, and most kids know that there is no set age at which all children are expected to be ready to start reading.
However, understanding when your child is ready to read doesn't have to be a mystery. Parents can look out for a few common signs of reading readiness in their child.
How Early Can You Teach Your Child to Read?
Reading readiness starts with motivation. Agest will vary from child to child, but the first and most important sign that your little one is ready to learn to read is a willingness and interest in learning. Motivation is an essential component of learning to read – children must be enthusiastic or interested in reading before they will put in the effort to learn how to do it.
Children who are ready to read may:
- Pretend to read.This shows that your child understands that reading a book, magazine or the back of their cereal box is an enjoyable, or at least worthwhile, activity and wants to try it out.
- Pretend to write.Your child may use pencils or crayons to "write" (which will likely be scribbles). This can be observed during pretend play, where your child may demonstrate an understanding of the functionality of printed words.
There are many ways to motivate children to develop an interest in books and reading. Reading programs such as Reading Eggs include interactive and highly motivating reading games and activities that help young children develop an interest in reading from an early age.
Another good indicator that your child is ready to read is if they show interest, enthusiasm and involvement during story time. This means that they enjoy being read to, at least for short periods of time, and frequently request or look forward to read‑aloud time.
It's also important that your little one can demonstrate listening comprehension skills before they take their first steps at learning to read. Take notice of your child's ability to retell familiar stories in their own words and answer simple questions about a story.
A child who is ready to read should also know how to hold a book the right way, turn pages from left to right and understand the left‑to‑right progression of sentences.
Common signs your child is ready to learn to read
Children who are ready to learn to read will usually show an interest in words and letters. Your child may point to capital letters and identify them, recognise some lowercase letters and know the alphabet song.
Another indicator of reading readiness is print awareness. Your little one should understand that readers sound out words by looking at letters and thinking about what sounds they make. They don't need to be able to actually sound of the words on their own, but they should understand the concept.
Your child should also have some degree of phonological awareness. A good way to tell if they are aware of the sound structure of words is to see if they can rhyme simple words, clap syllables and identify the beginning and ending sound in a word.
Your little one many learn to read this year or next depending on their level of reading readiness. In the meantime, encourage them to see the joys of books and reading through regular reading time and play‑based reading games – it's never too early to show your child how wonderful it is to read!