There are several pre-reading skills that occur before a child starts to read with ease. The best predictor of reading is phonemic awareness, which develops between 3 – 5 years old. A screener for phonemic awareness skills is very easy to implement. Once students can blend sounds together, they need to be able to match sounds to a symbol. From there, they can begin sounding words out. Any difficulty in this process can easily be identified in Kindergarten. We are not suggesting that people be concerned if their child cannot read a book in Kindergarten, but if they cannot blend and segment sounds, and identify the sounds of the alphabet by the end of Kindergarten, it is time to seek help. The earlier you identify a reading issue, the easier it is to remediate, and the less time your child spends wondering why their friends can read when they can’t.
Another issue that shows up a little bit later is the ability to remember words. Students who can sound words out easily but cannot remember a word after reading it several times may also develop issues with reading. If this does not improve by the end of first grade (or is noticeably difficult compared to sounding out earlier) then it is best that you get your child evaluated by a reading specialist. The summer before 2nd grade is a great time to help your child learn to read. By second grade, many students are already progressing rapidly. It is never too late to seek help for your child, but the younger they are, the easier it is for everyone.
If you are concerned about your child’s reading, The Reading Clinic provides low cost assessments to pinpoint where your child is struggling with reading.