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Families and Literacy:

Reading Checkup for Preschoolers (Ages 3–5)

How are your children developing as readers, and what can you do to help? Use RIF's series of Reading Checkups to evaluate your children's progress through six stages of reading development, from picture-pointing to independent reading.

Each checkup describes the knowledge and skills that most children demonstrate at a given stage and suggests how they can be nurtured.

How to Use the Checkups

Use the reading checkups the way a doctor uses a growth chart. Look for a steady pattern of growth with a few lulls and spurts. That's a healthy sign that your child is doing well in reading.

Age or grade ranges are listed for each checkup, but just as a guide. We recommend that even if your child is already in school, you begin with the Reading Checkup for Babies and Toddlers and work your way forward. That way you will better appreciate the steady growth your child has already made toward becoming an independent reader.

How Parents Can Help

Parents play a key role in their children's reading development at every stage. As you mark your child's progress, don't forget to check up on what you can be doing to actively promote your child’s interest and skills.

What Do the Checkups Mean?

Notice where most of your check marks fall. If your answers are mostly A's, your child may still be making the transition from an earlier stage. If the answers are mostly B's, your child is in the middle of this stage. If you checked mostly C's, your child is probably stepping up to the next level. If you have any concerns about your child’s reading progress, talk to your child’s teacher or pediatrician.

Checkup for Preschoolers:

Preschoolers are aware of print in the world around them and on the page. They may pretend to read favorite books. This pretend reading helps set the stage for real reading and helps children begin to think of themselves as readers.

Does your child...

1. Retell a story by looking at the pictures?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

2. Pretend to read a book by memorizing the words?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

3. Ask questions while you are reading?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

4. Make marks that look like letters?
a. not yet b. makes marks c. prints letters

Can your child...

1. Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs?
a. not yet b. a few c. a lot

2. Predict what will happen next in the story?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

3. Read or recognize "stop" on a stop sign, brand names, and other familiar print?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

4. Identify and name the letters of the alphabet?
a. not yet b. some letters c. most letters

Not to worry! It's okay if your child...

1. Asks a lot of questions while you read. Children learn through talking about books.

2. Can't sit still for a story. Some children listen better while drawing or playing with a toy.

3. Writes letters or words backwards. Preschoolers are getting oriented.

4. Prefers information to storybooks. Some children do!

Source: Reading Checkup Guide: Helping Your Children Become Better Readers, developed for "Read Me a Story," a RIF/VISA brochure.

Reading Checkup for Preschoolers (Ages 3–5)