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Reading/ Phonics/ Writing/ English
Question: When should a pre-schooler to be able to read independently on their own?
Asked by: Rina
Words from the Expert:


Question:   

What should be the appropriate age for a pre-schooler to be able to read independently? Is it advisable to use gadget/ video for teaching them the language?

Answer:

There really is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on so many variables.  However, according to research you can be confident that your child is developing their literacy skills at the expected rate if, by the time your child is 5 years of age, he/she has the following Oral Language skills:

  1. Able to express themselves well with a vocabulary of thousands of words

  2. Recounts a story accurately with details and in the correct sequence

  3. Starts to make predictions about what will happen next in a story book or TV programme

  4. Able to explain what words mean and what things are used for

  5. Able to answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions

  6. Starts to ask ‘when’ questions

  7. Able to answer hypothetical questions like ‘What would you do if?’ and gives a reason for the answer

  8. Able to have a conversation with a variety of people about a range of topics

  9. Cooperates with peers in activities and play

  10. Uses imagination and make-believe to act out and role play

  11. His/her speech is generally clear

Continues to speak with a few grammatical errors, e.g. ‘drinked’

If your child is demonstrating all the above oral language skills by the time they are 5, you can be confident that they are developing normally. In addition, if you are having conversations with your child, and reading to them every day, you can be reassured that you are setting the right foundation for your child to develop strong reading and writing skills in the future. 

Reading for enjoyment has always, sadly, been a minority pursuit. This is not a problem exclusive to the digital age – but this is a problem. I say this because all the literature says the same thing: children who enjoy reading – that is, children who read without being forced to – do better at school than those who don’t. Hardly a surprising outcome, but the real question is: ‘How do I get my child to enjoy reading?’

The simple answer is: through modelling. Telling a child to read because it is good for him/her will never work – especially if they never see you reading for pleasure yourself. Sharing the reading experience with them – and making it an enjoyable and fulfilling experience – makes them far more likely to seek out the experience again and again.

The good news is that ‘books’ don’t always need to be in the traditional paper format. Though early research indicated that books were better than screens for reading, better screen technology, better software and greater familiarity with screens and digital formats mean that now there is little or no qualitative difference between the various formats – in fact research shows that a significant majority of children actually prefer reading on a tablet to reading a traditional book.

In a world dominated by digital technology, most of the reading our children will do in their lives will be on-screen. As long as the e-book is designed to avoid the pitfalls of distracting animation and hyperlinks, it is a whole lot easier to encourage a child to read if it is presented in a medium with which they already connect – and how many of our children do not connect with their tablets?

The key to creating enthusiastic life-long readers is to make the experience fun and is rewarding – and if that means changing our outmoded attitudes to the different delivery systems, then that’s something we have to accept.

Brian Caswell, Dean of Research and Programme Development, MindChamps answered the above parent's question.

MindChamps Reading and Writing: www.mindchamps.org/mrw/

MindChamps Preschool

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