Pre reading skills for preschool

Pre Reading Skills in Preschool: Reading Readiness Checklist and Signs for Kindergarten

Before you starting reading with your preschooler, make sure you know the reading readiness signs for kindergarten and have practiced some pre reading skills

There’s so many of us at home with kids that should be in daycare and aren’t right now because of the pandemic.

And I know I can’t be the only one thinking, “Damn, wtf we gonna do today?!” Or like having all these activities planned and then all of the sudden, looking at the clock and it’s only 9:15a! Like, c’mon bro.

And then panic ensues- “How are they going to be ready for kindergarten if they fight this much?” “I don’t even know how to do common core math!” “And omg, why do they need to have a fashion show every day with this many outfit changes?”

Wait, that last one is probably just my kids, but I know we’re all in the same boat trying to figure out what is going and how to support our kids and get them ready for kindergarten.

What your preschooler needs to know by kindergarten

Pre Reading Skills in Preschool

You guys already know that I think the most important part of kindergarten is developing social skills: working on the sharing (not so much this year, but in general), saying kind words, team work, table talk, etc. THOSE things are really what will help them thrive later in their academic years.

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Reading Readiness Signs

But, I would be amiss if I didn’t admit that reading is really a life skill. Identifying pre-reading skills in preschool really helps them with reading readiness in kindergarten. Do you have a 4 or 5 year old and you want to work on some skills to make sure their teachers can start with reading practice when they start kindergarten? Then keep reading.

reading readiness for kindergarten

Reading Readiness Checklist

Word Awareness

Word Awareness refers to the concept that there are words made up of letters and those words have meanings associated to them. Knowing that words exist and means something is a pre-requisite to know that words can be different and have different meanings.

This seems so obvious, right? But that’s because you’re an adult and you’ve already figured out that words exist. Kids don’t know this. Sometimes, they just see a bunch of letters and words strung together.


Directionality refers to the orientation and alignment of one object in relation to another. In other words, it’s knowing that in America, words are read from left to right and top to bottom. This is KEY. Knowing that there is a direction that words “move” (I mean the words don’t move, but your eyes do) is one of the fundamental skills for pre-reading.

Poor or struggling readers have this as a challenge because they start surfing the page for familiar words, they skip lines, or even just have erratic eye movement that makes it difficult to focus on one word at a time.

Rhyme Recognition

Kids hear words before they can recognize or see written words. There is a direct relation between being able to HEAR the words said aloud and understanding that sounds can be changed or manipulated.

When kids hear words like “CAT” and “HAT” rhyme and “CAT” and “CALL” don’t rhyme, they are able to tell different sounds. Recognizing rhyming words helps them with identifying word sounds later.


Syllable Recognition

This refers to the ability that the child can break down the big parts or sound segments within a word. A syllable, in layman’s terms, is really just the different sounds a word makes. It HAS to have a vowel or vowel sound (for example, y is not a vowel but mimics the vowel sound) in each segment. Syllables can also have different inflections, meaning there is an emphasis on a certain sound.

Cat and hat both have one syllable. But words like water (wa-ter) and rainbow (rain-bow) have two syllables. When kids are able to recognize and identify the different syllables in a word, they are able to chunk sounds together so read words. Also, it totally helps with spelling. Well, in most cases anyway.



When you could count how many sounds and letters are within a word, you are segmenting. For example, how many sounds are in cup? C-U-P. Three.


Identify and Blend Sounds

Identifying sounds, especially words with the same beginning sound and ending sound is fundamental.

Dog starts with D. But wait, Dad also starts with D.

Look ends with -ook and the word Book also sounds like Look so it must also end in -ook. Yes, this is not the way the English language works all the time, but it’s enough that teaching this is important.

Going back to cup, C-U-P has three different sounds (segments) and we need to blend those sounds together to form the word cup.


Things to Review Before Phonics

People often ask me, how do you teach a kid to read?

And as you can see, there is SO much that comes BEFORE learning to read. Soon, I’ll be sharing a bunch of fun activities that promote learning these pre-reading skills that are aforementioned.

Stay tuned! Until then, be sure to check out these other resources below!


Other Tools and Resources

Spinning Alphabet Manipulative Blocks

Reading Strategies at Home: 6 Things to Try with Your Emerging or Struggling Reader

Reading Skills Pyramid

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reading readiness by kindergarten

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