The process of learning to read does not begin when a child enters kindergarten. Instead, the foundation of literacy begins developing at birth. A sequence of developmental milestones unfolds for five years before formal reading instruction begins. This process plays an important role in setting the stage to learn to read.

Each child brings a unique combination of pre-literacy skills when they enter kindergarten. A child’s genetics, language experience, speech, vocabulary, and phonological awareness all contribute to their pre-literacy skills. Rich exposure to books and reading also matter. It is these attributes, skills, and experiences that lay the groundwork for learning to read.

  • Auditory
    related to hearing
    the inherited biological ‘recipe’ for appearance and other individual characteristics
    the ability to read and write
    cells located in the brain and throughout the body that are specialized to communicate messages
    the smallest unit of speech (a sound)
    Phoneme “play”
    manipulating sounds that make up words
    Phonological awareness
    the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken language
    Primary visual cortex
    an area in the brain responsible for interpreting visual information
    neural cells at the back of the eye that are sensitive to light
    Skilled reader
    a reader who is able to focus on comprehension, rather than on sounding out words
    Visual word form area
    the area of the brain responsible for recognizing words during reading