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).
Completion 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
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),
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
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.
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