Q:

How do children acquire reading-readiness skills? Like every other parent, I want my children to be ready to read when they enter kindergarten. -- Eager

A:

Reading readiness is total body readiness. It may seem that the skills required to grasp a toy or bounce a ball have nothing to do with reading, but fine motor skills allow a child to grasp and turn pages in books, and gross motor skills provide the hand-eye coordination necessary for reading.

Teachers do not want parents to push their preschoolers to learn to read. Each child's rate of development, genetic makeup and level of interest all play important roles in determining reading readiness. Some children need so little help in learning to read that it seems they are teaching themselves.

Parents are constantly bombarded by the message that the way to help their children become readers is to read to them. Many parents wonder if the benefits are proportionate to all the hoopla. They are. Educators say that children who have been read to learn to read much more easily when formal reading instruction begins.

Children learn by imitation. You cannot expect an older child to read newspapers for world news if you turn on the television to get your information. Adults need to serve as models for young children. Children should see their parents reading. They also need to hear stories, poems or rhymes every day of their lives. It isn't ridiculous to start reading to children from the day they are born. Try the following activities to help your preschoolers become interested in reading:

  • -Take family trips to the library.
  • -Provide the children with their own books.
  • -Share a reading time.
  • -Listen to your children "read."
  • -Talk together before, during and after reading.
  • -Ask questions about what you have read together, but don't make it a "right or wrong" answer session.
  • -Know your children's attention span. Don't read beyond it.
  • -Help your children select books that complement their personal interests.

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