My 4 year old LOVES preschool – the friends, the free play, the snacks… but what she doesn’t love is group time. This is a new factor, and one that has thrown me a little for a loop. During group time, the kids sit on the carpet and learn about letters and the magical sounds they make. While none of them are expected to be reading just yet, many of them are – and it is stressing my Little One out. Her best friend is starting to recognize sight words and can sound short syllable words out, while some of the younger kids in the class are doing the same thing. As for Little Bit? She shrugs, says she doesn’t know and if pressed too hard… vomits. All in all, it’s not a fun time for her.
I get it, I really do. She is feeling pressure to perform at a level she just isn’t ready to be at yet – and it’s not her fault. The pressure comes from wanting to ‘fit in’ and also from her sister, who at only 2 years older, is reading full chapter books and raiding my book shelves (I’ve moved all the fun books elsewhere…). Little Bit seems to think that she should be doing the same – and she is not. While I am perfectly ok with this and wish her no stress, I do worry that this perceived set-back will cause her to resist reading in the future.
This has put me on the hunt for not only Reading Milestones, but any information regarding Teaching your Preschooler to Read.
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Luckily, Google has my back. I started researching and reading everything I could get my ‘screen’ on. First up:
What’s normal when it comes to reading milestones?
According to KidsHealth.org, my 4 year old is right on track. She can recognize most of her letters, enjoys stories and can make up silly stories or rhymes all on her own. You can find the complete list here, Reading Milestones.
A quick summary:
At 3, kids usually begin to:
- Explore books independently (flip through them on their own)
- Listen longer and to longer books that are read aloud
- Retell a story that is familiar to them
- Begin to sing the alphabet song
- Make continuous symbols that resemble writing
At 4, kids usually being to:
- Recognize familiar signs and labels, especially on signs and containers (McDonald’s anyone??)
- Make up rhymes or silly phrases – or remember them
- Recognize some letters of the alphabet
- Write some of the letters of the alphabet
- Read and write their names – even if it’s a bit messy
- Name beginning letters or sounds of words
- Match some letters to their sounds
- Use familiar letters to try writing words
- Retell stories that have been read to them
Again, all information above is from Reading Milestones, please see the complete list for verification and further information – they have ages 1 – 13 listed.
Looking at this list, my 4 year old is right on par with what she is ‘supposed’ to be doing. While this reassured me, it does little to calm her – so we are starting to go over things at home. I have always offered supplemental homeschooling for my girls that goes along with their public based education (though preschool is private), but it has been one of those casual things that focuses more on play and simply reinforces the stages they are supposed to be at. Now, we are going to be a bit more aggressive.
Read: The ‘No Screen Time’ Challenge.
My dollar store adventures are helping quite a bit here, providing me with cheap and easy flash cards, knick knacks and short books to read, along with pens, paper and large lined white boards. I am also hunting on online teaching supply stores, like Learning Resources. This massive online market is a treasure trove of learning goodies and covers just about every age and subject you could ask for. From fun games to out of the box activities (including free printable coloring pages and resources!) this store has become my go-to learning destination to beef up my homeschool offerings.
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Setting aside time
I have read to the girls every night before bed since they were born. We also incorporate reading time during the days, yet sometimes scheduling and life do not allow those extra special reading moments to take place – so I am making the time. Everyday, my Little One and I are sitting down to read. They are small books, easily followed and appealing to her – ones with bright pictures, animals, fire engines or captivating characters. I have her sit right next to me and I run my finger across the page, pointing out the words as I read them. Often, it is just me reading aloud while she listens, but there have been a few times when she has mouthed the words with me or jumped in when she already knows the story. Referring to the list above, this is one of her Reading Milestones.
Incorporate Letters and Sounds at every opportunity
We were stopped at a Railroad crossing the other day, giving me the perfect opportunity to ask her what letters she saw on the passing train. I am proud to say she caught most of them.
We also talk about stop signs, street signs, store displays, etc – anything and everything can be a learning opportunity. The questions do not have to be long or hard, something as simple as “What letter is that? What sound does it make?” will suffice.
Other experts say:
GreatSchools.org published an insightful article by Peg Tyre about kids learning how to read and the way a school approaches reading – “Yes, there is a right way to Teach Reading.”
While the entire post is worth reading, there is one section that stood out to me:
she gave a seminar for first grade parents to teach them some rules about vowels (for example: vowels make their short sound in closed pattern words like tap and the long sound in open pattern words like hi, so, and my) so parents could reinforce the lessons at home.
THAT is powerful information to have, it’s so simple and easily implemented at home. Guess what we are doing? 😉
Am I pushing too hard?
Most experts advise parents not to push when teaching your preschooler to read (Like this article on Aha! Parenting) – and normally I would agree. The reason I am taking a different path is because this is obviously something she wants to do. She wants to read. And I am going to help her – for as long as she wishes and to the degree to which she is able.
But I am also going to try to make this fun for her, and stress that she is not expected to read just yet – even though some of her friends are! That is one thing that struck me, how she is judging herself based on the abilities of her friends.. I can foresee a dark future if I don’t try to help her away from that mind set now.
What about you?
How is reading going in your house? Is it something you are actively teaching, or just letting it come naturally? I would love to talk – leave a comment and let me know! And if you have any advice for me, either about teaching your preschooler to read, or even about anxiety in children, Please, please leave a comment or message me. I desperately want to hear it!
Join the conversation!