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Helping our Preschoolers with Reading Readiness - Checklist Included


Helping our preschoolers get ready to read isn’t just about knowing letters and letter sounds.

There is so much more to reading readiness than the alphabet! Setting our children up to be successful readers means laying a solid foundation rooted in print awareness, narrative skills, phonological awareness and letter knowledge.

So, what can you do to ensure your students have that solid foundation? Let’s break it down:

Print Awareness (Concepts of Print)

What it means: Understanding how print works

  • Print can have different functions (a sign to warn, a menu to choose food, a greeting card)

  • Parts of print and how to use it (knowing how to hold a book, where to start reading and the left to right, top to bottom progression)

  • That print contains letters, words, spaces and punctuation

  • Read familiar environmental print (a student’s name or the McDonalds sign)

How we can help:

  • Read everything! Books, signs, notes, logos, menus, food boxes, clothing- everything!

  • When reading different items in your environment, tell children the function of these items (for example: "This says ‘Stop, use other door!’- This sign tells us something important- that this door is not to be used.”)

  • When reading and modeling writing, point out letters, words and punctuation.

  • Add environmental print to your room by asking children to bring in something they can read (like a food box, card, picture of a sign…) and sharing it with others.

  • Model how to hold a book, how to turn the pages and where you start reading.

Narrative Skills

What it means: Understanding how stories work

  • That stories have a beginning middle and end

  • Re-tell stories or tell the events from the story in order

  • Respond to read alouds with questions, comments or predictions

  • Pretending to read familiar books that are heard being read aloud

  • Creating a story based on the pictures in a book

How we can help:

  • Point out the parts of a story after reading a book aloud (example: The Three Bears- At the beginning of the story Goldilocks didn’t listen to her mom and went into the words, in the middle of the story she explored the bears house when they weren’t home. At the end of the story the bears came home and Goldilocks went running away)

  • Help children re-tell stories in order by using puppets, felt boards, sequencing cards or acting it out.

  • Ask questions before, during and after reading books aloud. Allow children to make predictions, ask questions and make comments.

  • Provide books in your classroom library that you have already read aloud.

  • Also provide books that you have not read aloud, allowing for children to make up a story to go with the pictures.

Letter Knowledge (Alphabetic Knowledge)

What it means: to distinguish letter shapes, name letters and letter sounds

  • Pointing to words in a book

  • Reciting the alphabet

  • Connecting the shape of letters to their name

  • Connecting the shape of letters to the sound they make

How we can help:

  • Reciting the alphabet together often.

  • Pointing out the letters and words in books and around the environment.

  • Start with helping children learn the first letter of their first name. Continue with learning the other letters in their name.

  • Point out how the letters in names are similar to other student’s names (example: Cody and Cameron both start with ‘C’ or Emma and Anna both end in ‘a’).

  • Create a print rich environment with lots of letters to observe around the room.

  • Go on letter hunts to search for letters that are important to children (like the letters in their names)

  • When talking about a letter, also make its sound to help children associate the two.

Phonological Awareness

What it means: identifying and manipulating units of oral language (auditory- not print)

  1. Listening: Do these words sound the same? ‘Cat & Car’- No ‘Star & Star’- Yes

  2. Alliteration: Words that have the same beginning sound. ‘Fabulous Friend’

  3. Rhyming: Do these words rhyme? ‘Fat & Bat’

  4. Blending: What word am I saying? ‘/t/-/op/’ or ‘/r/-/a/-/t/’

  5. Syllables: Counts syllables in words up to three. ‘Run’=1 syllable ‘Hello’=2 syllables ‘Banana’=3 syllables

  6. Segmenting:

    1. Segmenting phonemes in words- the first sound in ‘mop’ is /m/. The last sound in ‘dog’ is /g/

    2. Segmenting sentences- ‘I have red hair’ is four words.

How we can help:

  • Reciting nursery rhymes and poems

  • Play rhyming games and rhyming songs

  • Teach children how to hear and tap out the syllables in words

  • Play a game of ‘guess what I’m saying’- you segment a word and see if children can blending it back together to figure out the word.

  • Read books full of alliteration, like Silly Sally or In the Tall Tall Grass.

  • Read books full of rhyming, like Green Eggs and Ham or Llama Llama Red Pajama.

Looking for a way to track your preschooler’s progress with Reading Readiness?

The checklist below is for you! You can find it in the Lovely Commotion Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

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