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Families and Literacy:

Reading Checkup for Soon-to-Be Readers (Grades Pre-K–1)

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 interests 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 Soon-to-Be-Readers:

Children are soon-to-be readers when they know most of the letters of the alphabet and some of their sounds. They may ask, "Does this say boot?" and point to a word on the page that starts with "B." They can retell a story in more detail and may use book-like language, such as "Once upon a time." 

Does your child...

1. Tell stories that have a beginning, middle, and end?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

2. Look at print and ask, "Where does it say this?" or "What does this say?"
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

3. Spend time looking at books independently?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

4. Choose books to read over other play activities?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often 

Can your child...

1. Say the sound associated with each letter of the alphabet?
a. not yet b. some sounds c. most sounds

2. Recognize and sight-read words in a favorite book?
a. not yet b. a few words c. many words

3. Answer open-ended story questions like, "How do you think that made him feel?"
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

4. Print the letters of the alphabet
a. not yet b. some letters c. most letters 

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

1. Seems to be in this almost-reading stage for quite awhile.

2. Writes letters or words you can't decipher. Ask your child to read them to you.

3. Mixes up letters that look alike.

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

Reading Checkup for Soon-to-Be Readers (Grades Pre-K–1)