At the ages of four and five, your child will start to develop some basic reading skills.  Learning to read is a process, with numerous developmental milestones along the way.  But how do I know my preschooler is reading well?    

In early preschool, the child is taught phonemic awareness, some sight words, how to spell their name, and recognize letters of the alphabet.  In late preschool, children can match some letters to sounds and develop syllable awareness.  These key milestones are the basis for reading skills.

If you have a four-year-old, you might have noticed that your child is no longer a toddler but a full-fledged preschooler.  Although every child develops at their own unique pace, this is a general outline of the critical milestones required on the road to reading success.

How Do I Know My Preschooler Is Reading Well?

Your preschooler should accomplish most of the following vital milestones essential for reading development.

Reading Milestones For Early Preschool (Age 3)

At this age, children begin to:

  • independently page through picture books
  • listen to longer stories
  • recall and retell a familiar story
  • sing the alphabet song with prompting and cues
  • write symbols that resemble letters of the alphabet
  • identify the first letter of their name
  • learn that writing is not drawing a picture
  • emulate the action of reading a book aloud

Reading Milestones For Late Preschool (Age 4)

At age 4, children should start to:

  • identify familiar signs and logos, especially on packages
  • recognize words that rhyme
  • name at least half of the letters of the alphabet (aim for 15–18 uppercase letters)
  • identify the letters in their name and can write it
  • recognize letters or sounds at the beginning of a word
  • match some letters to their sounds
  • become aware of syllables
  • use familiar letters in an attempt to write words
  • understand that letters are read from left to right and top to bottom
  • repeat stories that have been read to them

How Are Preschoolers Able To Reach Their Reading Milestones?

Through playing, singing, and learning, a preschooler, will gain skills that help them learn to read and write, develop math and science skills, and be successful learners.

These “pre-skills” cement the foundation for their future.  They also learn “school readiness” skills to help them grasp the concept of school routines, working in groups, and preparing them to be students.

To build reading skills, your preschooler develops literacy skills during the scheduled “reading” time.  Teachers will use methods to help make connections between objects and words, and words and letters.

Preschoolers will recite rhymes and poems and sing songs to learn the rhythm of words and sounds through fun activities.  They will be surrounded by words and labeled objects in the classroom and can recognize letters and their sounds. 

Preschoolers are taught to read sight words, listen to books read to them, and to comprehend and recall the story.

What Activities Prepare Young Children For Learning To Read

Teach young children the concept of numbers, counting, reading their names, recognizing shapes, and the sounds of letters to prepare them for reading.

Phonological awareness allows the child to identify rhyming words.   It also enables them to recognize groups of words with the same sound at the start, e.g., (cat, cab, can) or at the end, e.g., (fish, dish, wish). 

Phonemic awareness teaches children to “sound out” the words and realize that printed letters represent language sounds.

How Can Parents Encourage A Preschooler To Read?

Reading is not only used in education but is also an essential requirement in today’s business world.  Daily and throughout the globe, digital communication takes place over emails and text-based message systems.   Reading text, processing it, understanding its meaning, and effectively communicating is vital in this modern world.

Below are some ideas for parents to encourage their preschoolers to read:

Develop Your Child’s Verbal Language

Read to your child and then ask them to recall their favorite parts of the story.  This exercise encourages children to listen to what is read and to have some fun retelling the story in their own words.

Read To Your Child Daily

Exposing children to literature will teach them that reading is a necessary part of their daily life.   Your preschool child is introduced to new information, concepts, and phonemic awareness with every story you read.

Encourage By Having A Variety Of Reading Material Available

Instill a reading habit by having several interesting books and other reading items available for your childSome practical ways to ensure your preschooler will always have something to read is byreading menus at their favorite restaurant. 

Asking children to select specific items from the shelves in stores will encourage them to read and remember the labels and logos.  Or read the names of movies they like to watch and see if they can recognize and choose for themselves the next time. 

When driving or walking down the road, read the street names and roadside signs and see if they will remember and identify the words if they see them again.

Create A Special And Inviting Reading Space

Display books and magazines on well-organized and inviting shelves for easy reach and ensure reading areas have good lighting.  Create an attractive reading corner and encourage your child to use it by setting up “reading corner time” each day.  Decorate the space with your child’s artwork and change or add new books to the shelves.

Encourage Creativity

Kids love to share their creations with friends and family, so encourage them to design posters or collages by creating a writing and art corner.  Ask your preschooler to act out the stories that they read or hear.

Use Technology

Technology has a positive impact on learning reading skills.  Allowing your child to use tablets, e-readers, smartphones, and computers will build their self-esteem through applied technology.   Install useful reading apps or programs to allow children access to safe sites to do various literacy activities.


From birth, children gather skills they will one day use in reading.  The growing years between 3 and 5, known as the preschooler years, are most critical to the reading growth.  A child will develop at different paces and will spend varying amounts of time at each stage to reach the milestones needed to become a good reader.

There are numerous methods for parents and teachers to assist preschool children with language and reading.    Building an environment for reading milestones to happen gives you the opportunity for close bonding with your child.   It also provides a step into the world of literacy that your child is about to enter.