Question: My two children are both preschoolers. I am constantly talking to them and reading them books. Still I’m worried about their being ready to read when they get to school. Are there signs that indicate the possibility of future reading problems? – Avid Reader
Answer: Over time, most children are likely to become good readers. Nevertheless, it’s helpful for parents of young children to know the signs that their preschoolers could be potential candidates for reading difficulties so early help can be secured for them. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has developed this list of things for parents to watch out for when they are observing their preschoolers:
- Very small vocabulary and/or slow vocabulary growth.
- Often unable to find the right word and speaks in very short sentences.
- Even with age-appropriate instruction, struggles with remembering sequences such as numbers, alphabet, days of the week.
- Difficulty pronouncing simple words.
- Difficulty understanding simple directions and following routines.
- Difficulty learning colors and shapes.
- Extremely restless and easily. distracted, compared to peers.
- Fine motor skills slow to develop.
- Has difficulty holding crayon or pencil, picking up small objects with fingers, copying basic shapes.
- Strong avoidance of certain activities, like storytelling and circle time.
Besides things to look for there are things that you can do according to NCLD that will encourage your child to develop into a good reader. You should:
- Read to your children every day.
- Point out words and letters that you find in your daily routines, while shopping or traveling through the neighborhood.
- Sing songs and share nursery rhymes.
- Go to the library and read books together.
For more information about your child’s early reading skills, visit NCLD’s “Get Ready to Read” website (GetReadyToRead.org) or DearTeacher.com and search for “reading” under “Preschool.”
Effects of No Child Left Behind on Families
Parents: If your young children are just starting school or are between the ages of six and 12, you need to be aware of how No Child Left Behind legislation is affecting them. First of all, children are now doing substantially more studying and reading—especially younger children. And you can expect to provide more homework help as children are being assigned more homework in reading and math to improve test scores.
If your children are young, you can now expect to spend from 10-15 minutes several nights a week giving them additional practice in reading. Ideally, their teachers will give you some training so you can help them accomplish their objectives. To make this homework time more effective, give your children’s teachers feedback occasionally on the effectiveness of specific assignments.