Pathways to Reading: Preschoolers

By Lynne Mueller, Head of School

Learning to read is critical to a child’s success in school and is a process that happens step-by-step.

Although some children read by age four, others learn to read by age 7. In most cases, if you were to observe a classroom of second graders, it would be difficult to differentiate between which student was an early reader and who started reading a little later.

Often parents express to me an urgency about reading with an expectation that by age 2 or 3 their child will have it all figured out. The reality is that the process doesn’t work this way and that’s normal. Reading involves learning to understand what someone is saying, learning to express oneself with varied vocabulary in full sentences, recognizing print rules, knowing the parts of a book and probably, most importantly, gaining pleasure from the reading experience. All these components take time to gel.

I have first hand experience about having a child, my son Jordan, who was a late reader. I remember the anxiety I felt when he was about five and did not read. As an educator, I was besides myself and as a parent I was worried I had not given my child enough reading opportunities and was feeling like I did something wrong. I then remember the moment of elation, when Jordan was 7, as I was walking into the living room, he was looking at the New York Times and said “Mom did you see this story in the Times?” He then recounted the article in full detail. Quite honestly, I don’t remember what the article was about, because I was not listening. I was simply swelling with pride that he was a reader at last! Years later I asked him why it took him a while to read and he said because he did not want to make a mistake so he refused to read until he had the confidence that he could read with total fluency. Children need confidence that they can read and that they don’t need to do it perfectly.

At Vivvi, the reading process is an organic one where functional print is everywhere and intentional conversations and lessons happen throughout the day as teachers read to model print concepts and use inquiry language to expand vocabulary. By providing our students with literacy experiences that help them feel successful, they can feel positive about their abilities as a reader. Like my son, with the right foundational tools, when a child feels that they can read, it usually happens; sometimes starting with functional print and sometimes The New York Times!