It’s back to school season and many young learners are embarking on an entirely new adventure – kindergarten! According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students enter kindergarten at very different skills levels, which is natural given that children may be coming from a variety of early childhood experiences, ranging from highly-skilled-focused pre-K programs, play-based preschools, Head Start, or no preschool at all. An average kindergarten class may have children with a five-year skill range in terms of reading ability, from children who don’t recognize letters or letter sounds to those who can read short books.
And parents, we’re affirming that IT’S OK for your child to be who they are and where they are on their learning journey. Your child is unique, on her own reading path, and will progress with time and practice. There is a large range of what is normal and children will develop at their own pace. Let them.
While It is important to note that children do not need to be able to read before entering kindergarten, there are certain skills that make learning to read easier for a children entering school. One study (Snow, Burns, and Griffin 1998) on kindergarten readiness reports that before children can read, write, or calculate, they must acquire rudimentary skills that serve as stepping stones toward mastery of the more advanced and complex skills. For reading, these rudimentary skills include:
- Becoming familiar with the conventions of print (such as the English-language convention of reading from left to right and from top to bottom)
- Learning to recognize letters by name
- Associating sounds with letters or letter combinations
- Understanding the meaning of many spoken words and phrases
Homer was built from the ground up to not only help children gain these literacy skills, but also meet them where they are in their learning stage and use their interests to motivate them to want to keep learning. By combining the best research on how children learn to read with thoughtful design and personalization, we created the perfect learning and motivation tool to prepare children for kindergarten. Our program’s focus on direct phonics instruction, general knowledge and vocabulary, as well as the vast library of e-books that cultivate a love of reading make it different from many light-touch skills apps. Homer was developed with a strong emphasis on phonemic awareness. And we know children who are familiar with phonics upon entering kindergarten tend to advance more easily and quickly than those without.
In addition to phonemic awareness, here are some of the key kindergarten readiness skills that make beginning kindergarten easier for children and their teachers:
- Attentively listens to stories
- Recognizing rhyming words
- Speaking in complete sentences of five to six words
- Making up stories from images or using pictures as prompts
- Hearing individual sounds in words
- Recognizing and naming some letters in the alphabet
- Having an interest in books
- Recognizing some common words like “stop”
- Understanding that words you can say can also be written using letters from the alphabet
- Counting to ten
- Ability to be away from a parent and adapt to new surroundings
- Getting along with other classmates
- Participating in class discussions