Sunday, July 17, 2016

Signs of Reading Readiness for Homeschoolers

We're at that point in the summer where homeschool planning and curriculum purchases can't be put off any longer.  Maybe you have a 4, 5, or 6 year old and you're wondering if you should invest in a reading program and get down to the business of teaching your child to read.  Age is not the only factor, so I've compiled a list of signs to watch for that show reading readiness in young children.

Reading hasn't been easy for all of my children.  I've shared our struggle and path before.  These reading readiness signs are not only for typical children, but will work for children with dyslexia and Down syndrome as well.  I speak from experience.  I have 5 readers in the house - all at different levels, including 2 with dyslexia and 1 with Down syndrome.  Trust me there are signs to watch for.

As a homeschool mom I've heard my share of stories about 3 year olds reading Harry Potter and 10 year olds taking college classes and I'm sure you have too.  Believe me that is not the norm.  The norm lies in all our homes.  There are early readers, average readers, late readers.  Unless there is a significant cognitive disability, children will learn to read when it's approached with love and a good step by step program.


1.  Ability to sing ABC song

From my experience, young children love to sing.  Teaching your youngsters to sing the ABC song can be accomplished in so many ways.  My favorite is to display an ABC poster, gather around it each morning, and sing slowly while pointing to each letter.  An ABC strip in the hallway would work well, too.

The Cedarmont Kids DVDs have been a winner since Emily was small.  They have an upbeat version of the ABC song.

Musical stuffed animals make great night time pals.  Peter has a plush monkey that sings the ABC song.  It's been a favorite since he bought it with his birthday money.  This elephant is similar to the monkey we have.

Anything you can do to get your little one singing the ABC song will put them one step closer to reading readiness.

2.  "What does this say?"

The desire to read comes from the yearning to know what strings of letters say.  Road signs, book covers, love notes - when they start to wonder about these things, they are on their way.  Over the years I've found that when kids start to ask, "What does this say?" they are developing a desire to read.  They've realized that all those ABC's mean something.  They are curious.  It's a big step.  I have an almost 3 year old already asking this question, however, I also have a child who didn't ask this question until almost 8.  They're all different - embrace it, pushing it will only result in excessive tears.

3.  "Will you write ________________ on this paper?" and "This says ____________."

Two more question/statements I listen for.  When my child starts asking me to write words for them or giving me papers covered with scribbles and "reads" it to me, I know they are approaching reading readiness.  They've equated written words with meaning, and they yearn to know the meaning.

4.  Obedience

Google defines obedience as:
          compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority
Compliance is the perfect word to describe the necessary attribute of a child who will be learning to read from their parent.  A wise older homeschooling mother once stated at a homeschool support meeting that 'without obedience, homeschooling is impossible'.  She's spot on!!  If a child refuses to put their shoes in the basket or pickup their stuffed animals or apologize, that issue must be addressed before teaching them to read no matter how ready they are.  Because sitting down with a disobedient child for a reading lesson will be hell on earth.  Trust me on this one.  And no, I will not be sharing any stories no matter how perfectly they illustrate this point.

5.  Ability to Rhyme

Not necessary, but helpful.  So far my kids with dyslexia struggle with rhyming; the kids without dyslexia figured out rhyming early.  Joseph, with Down syndrome, but likely not dyslexia, struggle with rhyming.  So I add this to the list as another sign to watch for, but please don't hold off on reading lessons if this is the only skill lacking.

The five signs showing reading readiness listed above is my personal list.  Throughout my 13 years of homeschooling, I've learned to watch for these things.  However, it definitely is not the list I learned in college class EDUC 309 (Materials & Methods for Teaching Reading).  One of the things on that list that I do not believe is necessary is:


Attention span becomes an issue in the classroom when a group of children are learning together.  Each child needs the ability to stay on task and focused even when the teacher is working with another student or teaching something they already know.  

In the homeschool setting, cuddled up on the couch with mom, getting all her attention pretty much alleviates any attention span issues.  Also, in the homeschool setting if the lesson isn't going as planned it can easily be pushed to a later time or the next day.  We can force the lesson, but we don't have to.

If you came here wondering how do I know if my child is ready to read, I hope I've helped you know what to look for.  Please don't hesitate to leave questions in the comments.  I will address any questions or comments you have.

And if you're saying to yourself, yep, my child's ready, may I suggest my favorite reading program.  I've tried many, and All About Reading is the best. (*affiliate link, thank you)

AAR - Symptoms of Dyslexia Checklist

Linking up with:

Homeschool Preschool: Preschool and Kindergarten Community linkup at Homeschool Creations

Homemaking LInkup

Literacy-Musing-Mondays- where we celebrate reading!


  1. Thanks for these tips! Your ability to adapt to different learning styles and special needs encourages and inspires me. We would love for you to share these tips with us at the Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup: http://www.foreverjoyful.net/?p=1189

  2. I'm so glad you joined us! Come back weekly. I also meant to tell you that the Leap Frog Letter Factory videos are some of my favorite alphabet teaching tools.


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