Reach Out and Read partners, Nemours BrightStart! have released the 2nd Annual Reading Readiness Snapshot for America’s Preschoolers – a guest blog post from Laura Bailet and Kathy Ingram at Nemours BrightStart!
Learning to read is a challenging task for the brain, and one of the most important developmental tasks facing young children. Only about a third of U. S. students score as ‘proficient’ readers (Nation’s Report Card, 2016). In response to overwhelming evidence that the foundation for successful reading is built in the early years, when a young child’s brain is highly responsive, adaptable and attuned to learning language, the Nemours Children’s Health System has created Nemours BrightStart to research, develop and offer evidence-based tools targeting young children at risk for reading failure. One of our tools, the Nemours online Preschool Reading Screener, is an effective, free screener that is widely available and easy to complete, to identify children in need of assistance early.
For children between birth and five years, developmental screening is often the domain of pediatricians, as part of routine developmental surveillance (Halfon et al., 2004). However, even with well-established guidelines and reliable tools, nearly half of all children fail to receive recommended screening (Halfon et al., 2004; Sand et al., 2005). For children with subtle developmental problems, such as reading readiness delays, 70 percent or more may go undetected (Glascoe, 2000) with the current system. Part of the challenge is time constraints for the pediatrician, and lack of an easy and effective screening tool.
Parents often play a central role in developmental screenings of their children. Research shows that, if questions are clearly stated, they are able to respond accurately (Dewey, Crawford, & Kaplan, 2003; Fenson et al., 1994; Glascoe, 2000). Studies also show that parental self-efficacy and parenting competence are positively correlated when parenting knowledge is high (Bornstein et al., 2010). Yet parents’ specific knowledge of key normal developmental indicators and milestones in the preschool years is low (Bornstein et al., 2010).
IMGCompletion of a straightforward screener thus may serve simultaneously to increase parents’ knowledge, promote greater intentionality with early literacy activities at home, and improve future reading outcomes. The Nemours’Preschool Reading Screener is designed for this purpose. It contains 31 questions organized into key reading readiness skills including oral language, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and beginning writing. Parents receive a rating of their child’s skill levels and an action plan. Thousands of parents of 3-, 4- and 5-year old children have completed the screener and a summary of their results can be found in the 2nd Annual Reading Readiness Snapshot for America’s Preschoolers released this week. The Snapshot reports:
Out of a maximum possible 31 points, the average score for 3-year olds is 18; for 4-year olds, 23; and for 5-year olds, 26. Not surprising, 3-year olds earn most of their points on oral language items and also have some beginning knowledge of rhyming and beginning sounds. For 4-year olds, the emergence of letter knowledge is especially striking; nearly 68% of them are able to identify at least 18 upper case letters, a skill that is vital for being on track for reading success as they move into kindergarten. More than 90% of 5-year olds demonstrate strong letter naming skills, and skill with letter sounds and with rhyming are also strong. Blending words is easier for 5-year olds than breaking them apart.
The Snapshot shows how preschoolers are actually doing in reading readiness, according to the people who know them best: their parents. With reasonable efforts to expose young children to books, language, drawing and writing, they will develop a solid foundation for future reading success. Screening for early literacy skills can be empowering and motivating for parents; they want to know early if their child is on track with reading readiness skills, or may need increased home literacy activities and book reading opportunities. It also helps parents understand connections between oral language, reading and writing, which in turn helps them offer a broader array of experiences, woven into their daily routines, that ultimately support reading development.
Bornstein, M. H., Cote, L. R., Haynes, O. M., Hahn, C., & Park, Y. (2010). Parenting knowledge: Experiential and sociodemographic factors in European American mothers of young children.Developmental Psychology, 46(6), 1677-1693.
Dewey, D., Crawford, S. G., & Kaplan, B. J. (2003). Clinical importance of parent ratings of everyday cognitive abilities in children with learning and attention problems.Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36(1), 87-95.
Fenson, L., Dale, P. S., Reznick, S., Bates, E., Thal, D. J., Pethick, S. J., . . . Stiles, J. (1994). Variability in communicative development.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(5), 1-185.
Glascoe, F. P. (2000). Early detection of developmental and behavioral problems. Pediatrics in Review, 21(8), 272-280.
Halfon, N., Regalado, H. S., Inkelas, M., Peck Reuland, C. H.,Glascoe, F. P., & Olson, L. M. (2004). Assessing development in the pediatric office.Pediatrics, 113(6), 1926-1933.
Nation’s Report Card. (n.d.).2015 mathematics and reading assessments. Retrieved July 21, 2016, from http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2015/#reading?grade=4
Sand, N., Silverstein, M., Glascoe, F. P., Gupta, V. B., Tonniges, T. P., & O’Connor, K. G. (2005). Pediatricians’reported practices regarding developmental screening: Do guidelines work? Do they help?Pediatrics, 116(1), 174-179.