Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Developing Early Reading Skills in Preschoolers: Print Awareness

Developing early reading skills begins long before actually learning to read.  This week and next week, I will be sharing a mini-series about developing these early reading skills in preschoolers!

I recently took a professional development class about early reading skills, and as I sat through the lessons I became more and more convinced that you can teach these early reading skills through simple, playful interactions with your young children.

If you haven't already read my post about how preschoolers' brains develop, I strongly suggest you read that first.  Everybody wants their young children to read as early as possible, but pushing them when they're not ready is actually damaging.  On the other hand, these "pre-reading" skills can be "taught" while you simply read to your children!

During this mini-series, I will address four early reading skills, what they are, why they are important, how you can "teach" them to young children, and (for those of you teaching preschool groups) how you can teach them to a group of kiddos.  We will end with a wrap-up post next week!  As I post, I will link the posts to each of these labels:

1- Print Awareness (this post!)

2- Phonological Awareness

3- Phonics

4- Strategies

5- Wrap Up!

So, let's get started!!

Print Awareness

1.  What is Print Awareness:

An understanding of the characteristics of print, especially the following:
* print has meaning
* print is read directionally (in English, left to right and top to bottom)
* letters make words and words are separated by spaces
* books are read front to back

2.  Why is Print Awareness important:

Print awareness is the most basic pre-reading skill.  Children must understand that letters and words have meaning before they can be expected to read them.  Reading will only make sense if it done in the right direction. 

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3.  How to "teach" Print Awareness to your own child:

** Read with your child!  Plop your kiddos on your lap and read with them!  As you read, point to the words you say.  Your children may look at the words at times and the pictures at other times, but they will begin to realize that the words are just as important as the pictures.  They will also notice the direction you read.

** In books with one or two very repetitive words (like Go! Go! Go! Stop! ), occasionally choose a word for your children to read.  Show them the word, tell them what to say, and then let them say it when you point to it!  This helps them learn that each printed word represents a spoken word.

** In books with predictable rhymes, let your children "read" the second rhyming word in a couplet while you pause reading, look at them, and point at the word.

** Read "mini books" or other books with very few words with your children.  Board books are wonderful for this!  Some of our favorites include Go! Go! Go! Stop! and Orange Pear Apple Bear !  Your kiddos will memorize the words as you read and point at them and then be able to "read" them back.

** Look at the cover!  Ask your kiddos to predict what the story is about based on the cover picture.

4.  How to teach Print Awareness to a group of preschoolers:

** Sing chants or rhymes while pointing to the words with a pointer.  Let the children take turns pointing.

** Read aloud books and have a volunteer turn the pages.  Children will often observe each other closer than they will observe you!

** Read "big" books in circle time and choose a word for the class to read every time you point at it. 

** Read the title page!  Talk about what "author" and "illustrator" mean!  

** Look at the cover!  Ask your kiddos to guess who the main character is based on the cover picture.

5.  Goals

In Texas, during their Kindergarten year, children are expected to hold a book the right side up, turn pages correctly, and identify different parts of a book (like the front and back covers, title page, etc.).  You can easily prepare them for this year (and even "teach" them these skills before kindergarten) just by reading with them!

I hope you find this series encouraging and exciting, and that you join us for the rest of the posts!  Feel free to email or leave comments with feedback, your own experiences, or your own tips!!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Unknown said...

I have always read to and with my girls. As much as I just knew theyou were learning from our reading together never really knew the steps or the right wording for what it's called. Thank you for this informative post, I will share it.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks so much Natasha! It is amazing how much children learn from just reading with their parents! Your girls are lucky!!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful series! Whilw.my children are not yet reading, I try to expose them to print as after as possible! I'll point out the colorful letters on cereal boxes, the fancy letters on invitations, or the fun print on toy boxes. I love instilling early literacy in my munchkins (if only I loved math just as much...)

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Clarissa, Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! Your kids are so lucky to have a mom passionate about literacy! And lol about math...you probably teach them more about math than you think!