Learning to read is an important skill for children, as literacy is key to learning and opening up choices in life. While most parents are keen to speed up their child’s reading progress, it’s important to acknowledge that reading is a developmental process. As a result, no two children are the same and they develop in different ways.
Rather than judging progression by age alone, it’s important to think about learning to read as occurring in three stages – emerging, beginning, and fluent.
The tips below will assist you to identify your child’s reading stage and encourage them to read through supportive strategies.
Stage 1: Emerging Readers
Emerging readers are those who are just starting to gain an understanding of how a text works. Children at this stage understand that words and pictures convey a message or meaning, and may also recognise a small number of words that occur regularly throughout a text. They will demonstrate good book handling behaviours and will know where the book begins and ends.
TIPS FOR PARENTS:
- Read to your child every day and establish a climate at home where books are valued and part of the daily routine.
- Point out environmental print, such as words on signs, around the home and at the supermarket, to assist them with word recognition and comprehension.
- Discuss the meaning of your child’s favourite books and make links between these storylines and the child’s own experiences.
Stage 2: Beginning Readers
Beginning readers are those who are becoming much more familiar with different texts. Children at this stage are reading more widely and independently, and are happy to explore new reading materials and formats. While they may still be reading slowly and word by word, they are beginning to identify many more high-frequency words (20-50 words) and can also begin to self-correct words as they are reading.
TIPS FOR PARENTS:
- If your child comes across a word they don’t know, parents should resist the urge to give away the answer too quickly as that’s an unsustainable strategy. Rather, use supportive strategies and guide them to look for clues that can help them to establish meaning. Ask questions like “what would make sense here?” or “does the pictures give you any clues?” to remind children of the strategies they can use to figure out what they are reading.
- Don’t treat every reading session as a learning exercise. For productive and enjoyable experiences, make the reading process relaxed and fun. Use funny voices when reading, opt for novelty books with interactive elements and change up the physical reading location to keep children engaged.
Stage 3: Fluent Readers
Fluent readers are those who tend to read from a wide variety of different texts with minimal or no assistance. Children at this stage can identify most high-frequency words automatically and utilise various strategies to figure out unknown words.
TIPS FOR PARENTS:
- Encourage discussions about the book that go a little deeper. Talk about different types of texts, their purposes and the unique characteristics that define them.
- Celebrate book choice and let your children choose what they want to read. Not only can this foster a genuine interest and love for reading, removing imposed choices can also help your child develop into strong, self-sufficient readers.
Ready to start reading with your little ones? Choose from a wide selection of children’s books from Dymocks.
**Article written by Ryan Spencer. Ryan Spencer is Dymocks Literacy Expert and State Director of the Australian Literacy Educator’s Association.