SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

10 Easy Steps for Reading Readiness

There are some simple yet important skills that your child must have before he is ready to read. Parents can easily incorporate these skills into play, activities, and time together to support early reading success.

Here are 10 easy steps to get started:

  • Find things that are the same or different. Talk about what makes things the same, or why things are different. An example could be “How are a circle and a square the same?” (They’re both shapes.) “How are they different?” (A square has four sides, a triangle has three.)
  • Look for big or small comparisons. “How would you tell someone about the difference between an elephant and a mouse? Or, a mouse and an ant?”
  • Review the alphabet as “partners” with both capital and lowercase together (Dd). This makes for an easier transition to the printed word.
  • Classify. “Which one does not belong, apple, pear, fish, or banana?”  “Why?”
  • Combine sight and hearing practice. Can you see the birds? Can you hear them?
  • Practice letter sounds using both the sound and a picture. You can use an actual picture, or have him close his eyes to make a mental image. For example, “Bb, as in baby.”
  • Look for patterns, both visual and auditory, such as the placement of bricks on a walkway, or the musical repetition in the song “Bingo.”
  • Read nursery rhymes and poems together to practice rhyming.
  • Help your child change beginning or ending letters in a word to make a new word. For example, “How can you change the word ‘cat’ to ‘sat’?” Or “How can you change ‘cat’ to ‘car’?”
  • Use temporal words like first, next, then, before, after, etc. to help your child understand story sequence.

All of these simple strategies help a young child practice, enjoy, and celebrate the pleasure of learning to read!

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