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Prereading Skills and the Kumon Reading Program


Many parents wonder how they can help their young children become successful readers. To reach this goal, students need to develop pre-reading skills. These skills include oral vocabulary development, print awareness, alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness, and the letter-sound correspondence. Levels 7A-3A of the Kumon Reading Program help students develop these crucial skills. Read on to find out how parents can help their child at home.


Phonemic awareness is the understanding that words are made up of sounds and that these sounds are used to make different words. Simply reading aloud from the Recommended Reading List can improve students' phonemic awareness. Hearing books with nursery rhymes, riddles, songs, and poems can help call children's attention to the sounds of language. When reading aloud books from the RRL, parents can ask students to:

  • Listen for words with the same beginning sound.

  • Point to a picture, name it, and say the beginning sound.

  • Think of words that rhyme with words in the text.

  • Listen for words that begin (or end) with a specific sound.


Print awareness is a series of understandings about written language. For example, the knowledge that printed words represent spoken words, that words are composed of letters, and that print is read from left to right. If students can match spoken and written words, they will have an easier time understanding that words are made up of sounds.


Setting a reading and writing example is one of the most important ways to help your child develop print awareness. At home, parents should:

  • Have books, magazines, and newspapers, and allow their child to see them being used.

  • Show their children how they use reading and writing in their everyday lives: writing a shopping list or a note, or reading a menu.


Alphabet knowledge is the ability to identify the letters of the alphabet. A student who has alphabet knowledge can name the letters on sight, point to them, match uppercase and lowercase letters, and match letters that look the same. Alphabet knowledge is a natural step towards developing letter/sound correspondence, the understanding that letters represent sounds. Letter/sound correspondence allows students to begin learning to sound out words and eventually become fluent readers. To help develop these skills, parents should:

  • Allow children to trace letters of the alphabet in sand or salt in a shoebox.

  • Have children make letters out of play dough and trace them.

  • Give children magnetic letters and encourage their use on the refrigerator or on a cookie sheet.


Developing vocabulary is another important pre-reading skill. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are all components of language. Students must have a strong oral vocabulary to be able to read effectively. If students are not able to understand everyday conversation, for example, they are going to have difficulty understanding written language also. This is why it is important to develop students' oral vocabulary. To help children develop oral vocabulary, parents should:

  • Read aloud books from the Recommended Reading List, and discuss the characters and events of the story with their children.

  • Look at the pictures and talk about the things they see.

  • Ask their child to retell stories in their own words. Look for everyday opportunities to teach their children new words.

  • Talk to them about their day, and discuss things that interest the child.


As students progress through the lower levels of the Kumon Reading Program, they will build a new foundation of pre-reading skills that allow them to become successful, independent readers. Kumon provides the tools and structure needed to develop these skills and build a foundation for a lifetime love of reading.

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