When the teacher has obtained and tabulated information of this kind about every child, she can see which experiences each one needs in order to be ready for systematic instruction in reading. Those who have high instruction-readiness scores can begin basal reading instruction. Those who are below par in oral speech, in ability to fill in the missing words at the ends of sentences, to recognize similar sounds in words, and in knowledge of the names of letters should be given these prereading experiences. Then they will be much more likely to succeed in their first attempts to read.
It would be helpful if every parent could talk with the first-grade
READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES 117
teacher several weeks after school has begun. By then the teacher would know what experiences each child needs to give him the best chance for success in beginning reading.
Perhaps the teacher has noted some signs of difficulty in hearing or seeing. If these signs are confirmed by the school nurse or doctor, a more thorough examination is indicated. In fact, every child should have an eye examination by a specialist before he starts school.
Parents, too, can note signs of faulty hearing: Does the child pay no attention when his head is turned away from the speaker? Does he speak in an unnatural tone of voice? Does he mispronounce many words? Scarlet fever, as well as frequent colds and earaches, may impair a child's hearing.
You can foster the child's desire to read by continuing to read him stories and poems that he thoroughly enjoys. When time is limited and he wants more, you can say, "Soon you will learn to read stories yourself, when Mother is busy." Introduce him to the joys of the library. There he may browse among books and wonder what the people in the pictures are saying and what is happening in those enchanted lands.
When you are cooking, give him opportunities to bring you the flour or the sugar in its labeled can. When you are driving, ask him to read the road signs—Go, Stop, Slow, Curve—for you. Write simple messages on his blackboard or bulletin board, not for him to read, but to arouse his curiosity and make him feel a need for reading.