The ability to read in kindergarten and first grade is critical to academic success, confidence and keeping up with peers in early childhood development. Kids develop various pre-reading skills from very early stages of life through preschool. Parents and early childhood educators can help young children develop pre-reading skills that increase their capacity for early and efficient reading abilities.

Babies

One of the earliest pre-reading skills for babies is print recognition and awareness. Letting your child play with and even chew on books is a good way to encourage initial development. Young babies can also hear and understand basic vocabulary and phonology, even though they can't necessarily verbalize effectively. Reading aloud to your baby, talking in a normal voice with regular sentences and encouraging your baby to babble are common ways to promote development of vocabulary and phonological skills.

Toddlers

Toddlers typically make strides in a number of the same pre-development areas, including print awareness and vocabulary. Essentially, small children grow their vocabulary in rapid fashion, depending on how much language they experience. As toddlers learn to verbalize and construct sentences, they also develop narrative or story telling skills. These abilities are especially helping in learning story structure and ultimately, interpreting stories in books. Letter knowledge also develops. Many kids learn the "A-B-C" song at home or school, for instance.

Preschool

The Brighton District Library indicates on its website that preschool-aged children develop in the same set of skill areas as toddlers, but expand their pre-reading abilities. More exposure to books, stories and vocabulary further stretch a preschooler's vocabulary, awareness of sentence structure and stories. Many preschool age children can read and write words, and some can read and write out sentences by the age of four.

Additional Tips

Additional tips and strategies can aid parents and preschool teachers in helping young kids become precocious readers by kindergarten. The classic matching game helps kids learn patterns that are often present in words and sentences. You can plan the match or memory with toddlers. Motor skill development, including helping a toddler use a writing utensil to form letters aids in print awareness and understanding of letter construction. In general, consistently reading to your kids from an early age is one of the best ways to develop a pre-reader.