Get your toddler equipped for reading


By Wilna van Rooyen

Child development is based on sensory-motor development that must be established, as well as emotional and social skills that must be in place. An extensive vocabulary and use of language must be available before formal reading can be undertaken from six to seven years old. The better the skills are established, the easier the learning to read experience becomes.

Brain development is based on the information that is given to the brain by the senses and the information that is processed in the brain, so that an instruction is given to the muscles to react.

The first six to seven years are the whole most important learning time in every person’s life and forms the basis for all learning that takes place later, where all skills necessary for lifelong learning are developed.

The order of development:

  1. Sensory development
  2. Gross motor development
  3. Fine motor development.
  4. Emotional and social development – ​​ongoing. (Children must feel safe and secure in order to learn and remember. They learn socially and culturally from their parents, brothers and sisters, family, friends, but must feel safe in order to reach out socially.)
  5. Vocabulary and language use – continuous and lifelong.

Sensory development takes place in a specific order:

The skin what can feel includes movement and experience.

The mouth who can taste and name different tastes.

The nose which smells and has an influence on the emotion.

The ear who hears and listens.

The eye that can look and see, a sensitive sense, which is only fully developed at the age of seven.

Gross motor development: Occurs from birth and helps develop the brain along with the senses.

Regular magic time is needed so that the neck muscles and the core muscles can strengthen, so that by about six or seven months of age they can sit and later crawl and walk.

The following skills must be established for reading and school readiness, before successful formal teaching can take place:

Balance – to be able to lift the head, to roll from one side to the other, to be able to sit, crawl and walk, to be able to move the torso forward, backward and sideways to both sides.

Body image – a total awareness of one’s own body, body parts, functions of body parts and how body parts move.

Laterality – to distinguish between left and right, an inner, complete awareness of the two sides of the body.

Centerline crossing – by rolling, moving forward, backward, sideways, crawling, walking, handling objects, by manipulating, for example, car tires, riding a bicycle, climbing and scrambling, and so on.

Muscle tone – strong internal muscles must be developed to be able to stay upright, to stand in a gr. 1 class to be able to sit.

Spatial orientation – to be aware of where you are, what is above, below, next to, in front of and behind you.

Coordination and Rhythm – to walk rhythmically, jump, clap hands, tap fingers together, stamp feet, bump fists together and be able to jump rope.

Direction and sequence – direction and sequence are experienced when children crawl, walk, jump patterns, climb and climb and more.

Fine motor development:

From birth it is important that baby will suck strongly around the mouthstimulate muscles to be able to speak clearly later.

Eye muscles develops when all the above activities take place, also when children look each other in the eye, follow one object with the eyes while the child ignores the background, move from sport to sport on a climbing and climbing device.

The fine muscles in the feet and toes develops when children, for example, climb and scramble, walk barefoot, walk on toes, walk on heels, pick up items such as beads and buttons with the toes, jump in one place or over objects, walk on a line.

The muscles in the hands and fingers practice when the child crawls, plays with balls, climbs and climbs, hangs from rungs of climbing and climbing equipment and slides down the fire hose. To carry out everyday tasks, for example dressing and peeling fruit.

Drawing work is of the utmost importance, as it creates the opportunity for the child to put his or her thoughts on paper. Tearing, crumpling, cutting, gluing, modeling with play dough or clay, doing woodwork and building constructions develop the finger muscles and the brain for writing and reading.

Language development: Language forms an essential part of a person’s development and forms the core of a lifelong learning process. One’s ability to learn is largely made possible by language.

The distinction of sounds plays an important role during the auditory development of the young child, for example household sounds, environmental sounds, animal sounds, nature sounds.

The recognition of words that sound the same or different, recognition of rhyming words and later distinguishing and naming beginning, ending and middle sounds are important milestones for being able to read, write and spell later.

Through to stories listening expands the vocabulary, stimulates the imagination, develops memory and improves understanding.

Rhythm is experienced, vocabulary is expanded, and rhyming words are identified, when rhymes be learned.

Songs expands vocabulary, contrasts such as fast/slow and rhythm as well as beat are experienced.

Syllables clapping words, tapping fingers against each other, tapping a friend’s back with a finger, chopping blocks against each other, and so on.

Children can only be ready for reading, writing and spelling if they are developed in totality, as explained earlier. Reading, writing and spelling are not skills that can be learned like jumping rope. These skills cannot be developed if all the other aspects are not also developed. Reading is not natural, it is a learned skill.

  • Wilna is an early childhood development specialist and a co-drafter of Solidarity School Support Center (SOS). Reading guide for a structured reading strategy which was released in May this year. The ‘Reading Guide is available on order and is accompanied by a supplementary online ‘Reading Manual’.