PreK Reading Tips
By Kiran Gokal
Learning and practicing to read at the Pre-k level is really important in a child’s language development. Early reading is vital in building fluency skills that will set children up for success as they get older and face more difficult reading challenges.
Some of these fluency skills include phonemic awareness and phonological awareness.
What is Phonological Awareness?
This umbrella term has to do with the sounds in a word. It’s a term used to relate to all the more extensive parts of language when referring to sounds and words.
For example, it refers to students learning to blend sounds, learn rhyme time, or identify the syllables in a particular word.
When practicing these skills, you are building your child’s phonological awareness.
What is Phonemic Awareness?
This term is a sub-category of phonological awareness and relates to the smallest unit of sounds in a word called phonemes.
Phonemes are the smallest units of sound that we hear in words. This includes individual sounds in words like cat or /c/ /a/ /t/.
When teaching reading, building skills that teach students to break down and identify each sound in new words is crucial, especially teaching them to recognize its placement in the word. For example, is the /c/ sound in the beginning, middle, or end of the word cat? It’s in the beginning, and your preschooler should be learning to identify that.
Furthermore, blending sounds to read words is an essential skill that PreK students are just beginning to learn. All of these skills start with a solid foundation in early reading.
Keep reading to learn what early reading skills and tips you can use with your child at home.
Three Important Prek Reading Tips to Use With Your Child
1) Make Story Time Fun!
Read alouds with your preschooler are a fantastic way to help your child on the path to reading success.
Playing an active role during you and your child’s shared reading time will not only make the time memorable and build a trusted bond between you two, but it will also be something they are excited to participate in.
When you’re engaged in a read-aloud, asking your child comprehension questions will help them understand basic plot concepts about the story. For example, some questions to ask are: Who are the characters in the story? What are they doing? What problem are they having, and how do they fix it?
You want to stick to basic and simple questions that will have your child think about these concepts in the story. This will help transition them into active readers!
Secondly, making story time fun can also include reading aloud with lots of expressions. If your child loses interest quickly or has trouble paying attention, this is the perfect way to keep them interested. Be dramatic with it! Use different voices for different characters, act out dramatic parts of the story, and allow your child to do the same! These things will make reading something your child associates with fun and exciting times.
Tip: Make sure to choose a variety of books and let your child choose the one they want to read!
2) Mastering Sounds and Practicing Rhyme Time!
Learning and making rhymes is the easiest trick to teach children new words. However, this is not possible without first knowing all the different sounds in the alphabet.
This is where phonemic awareness comes into play. Sounds are the building blocks of words and the foundation for learning to read.
Use what they know. Start easy! Ask your child what sounds are in their name. Once they learn their alphabet, don’t expect them to know all the sounds but perhaps just the vowels or the beginning sounds of words, places, or people they know. When they understand that words are built with sounds, they are on the right path!
Once children understand this concept, rhyming and other kinds of word play games can really support your preschooler to recognize the differences between sounds. Ask them how many words they can think of that rhyme with different three-letter words. It’s a great way to teach them that all words consist of individual sounds and that rhyming words have similar sounds!
The ability to rhyme words with the same ending sound will encourage your child to learn to read and write later.
Reading rhyming books with your preschooler is a simple way to expose your kids to rhymes.
3) Introduce Sight Words and Print-Word Referencing
Once your preschooler finds their footing and is reading consistently at the pre-k level, you can start introducing them to some easy two or three-letter sight words.
Learning sight words will provide them with a solid foundation, which will help them improve their reading later on. It also dramatically improves reading fluency.
An excellent game to play with your preschooler learning sight words includes building print awareness. Point to the written words on a page and ask your child what that new word is.
For example, telling your child, “I spy the word… “the”! Can you find me the word “the“?” Your child will then point to the written words on the page that they think are sight words.
This not only associates letters and sounds with whole words but also teaches them essential sight words to build their vocabulary, which is crucial in reading and writing.
If they can recognize them in their stories and books, they have it in their arsenal for when it comes time to write. Furthermore, as they learn more sight words, they also can start reading at higher levels!
The Reading Ranch Method
At The Reading Ranch, we pride ourselves in having a research-backed Pre-K Multisensory reading program that teaches preschoolers early phonics. Including concepts such as oral language, print awareness, building on letter recognition, letter stroke, phonological awareness, alphabetic principle, and rhyme time & wordplay. If you’re looking for a program to teach these concepts to your preschooler and have them on the path to reading fluently, contact us today. We offer either online or in-person programs we feel confident we have something just right for every family.
Kiran Gokal is a freelance writer, teacher, and lover of the written word specializing in content articles, blog posts, and marketing copywriting. For the past three years, she’s been teaching bright young students all about reading and writing at The Reading Ranch®, while also lending her writing skills to different businesses and non-profits in the education sector.