Reading is a process of perceiving symbols, of visual, oral and aural discrimination. Reading readiness is the product of the whole child, not a segment of himself.
Reading readiness is the time when a child is capable of learning to read. That is normally around the age of 6 years. Research has found that when there is a delay in the reading process beyond 6 or 7 years old, children catch up to those who start early within a couple of years, and often it is impossible to find the difference between the two groups in reading ability by the time the children are ten or eleven years old.
Schools have been ignoring proven research and have made chronological age the official measure of reading readiness. The common practice everywhere is to start formal reading instruction in kindergarten or in the first grade. That is not a good practice because a class of kindergarteners or first-graders are not expected to all be at the same stage in the developmental process/ reading readiness.
Reading Readiness Skills
The specific things a child needs before he enters first grade are:
- how to hold a pencil,
- how to detect similarities and differences,
- how to rhyme,
- how to interpret/describe pictures,
- the conventional left to right direction of written language (the other direction for Arabic),
- There is also a need to have sufficient attention span so they can focus long enough to learn new things.
- Reading readiness involves the ability to form concepts, and it certainly involves prior experience.
I. Aspects or growth for reading readiness
A child must have reached readiness in three different aspects of growth:
- psychological (emotional and intellectual), and
- educational and sociological (cultural and environmental .
1. Physiological Readiness
A child must be ready physically before he can learn to read.
Children ordinarily start out far-sighted, and their eye muscles slowly tighten in their focusing ability. That is the reason book publishers use big print for little children.
Auditory sharpness is a necessity. This involves listening and talking before starting to read.
Fine Motor Skills
A child must have developed a degree of ability in the use of fine motor skills which is different than gross muscular control. An example is distinguishing between “b” and “d”.
2. Psychological Readiness
It is important that the child had developed a degree of mental maturity and intellectual functioning before he can understand what he reads.
A child who has one of the following cases may not be ready to read:
- A child who is super organized and structured,
- The disorganized and impulsive child ,
- The paranoid child, and
- The autistic child.
3. Educational/Sociological Readiness
Some of the important aspects are:
- the language patterns within the home,
- the parents’ interest in stimulating the child to explore ideas and places,
- the attitudes parents have toward learning, school, and books,
- the model parents show to the child about reading,
- the care with which parents provide mental content, or experiential background and
- The attitude society has towards reading.
II. Technical Skills in Reading Readiness
2. Identifying Sounds
- Rhyming helps in identifying the different sounds that make up a word.
- Developing visual discrimination and visual memory skills.
- Activities to recognize sounds include songs, stories and word games.
Developing Reading Readiness
There are several ways of developing reading readiness in children.
- Making reading fun for children by singing,
- Encouraging the child to read to a friend or an adult no matter how silly the child reading sounds,
- Playing game of words to improve memory skills,
- Helping the child to distinguish between different but close sounds,
- Frequently reading to the child,
- Pointing out letters and words,
- Playing word games with the child,
- Taking words apart and putting them back together, and
- Introducing new words to the child.
To encourage reading readiness in children, the following recommendations are given:
- Teachers need to promote reading culture among children in their schools.
- Parents should provide books and stimulating reading environments for their children. Parents need to model reading and read themselves.
- Governments should provide appropriate training for teachers on methods of reading instruction and also provide appropriate materials to develop reading skills.
- Libraries should be provided for children in order to use their leisure time to read for pleasure.
Reading Readiness Deficiency in Children: Causes and Ways of Improvement (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281460792_Reading_Readiness_Deficiency_in_Children_Causes_and_Ways_of_Improvement [accessed Feb 22 2018].