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Providing a research-based curriculum and effective intentional teaching (tier 1) will help to ensure that the majority of children in early childhood classrooms demonstrate growth and development across all domains of learning. Specific guidelines for implementing response strategies as part of tier 2 and tier 3 do not exist at this time.

However, efforts are underway to identify standard research-based interventions from which teachers could extract specific practices to respond to individual learning characteristics within each tier of the intervention hierarchy. Published reviews of the literature suggest that vocabulary development and phonological awareness each play a key role in helping pre-kindergarten children learn to read and in preventing reading difficulties later on.

There also is evidence to suggest that specific interventions are effective in improving these abilities in this age group. For more information, see reports by the National Research Council (1998) and the National Reading Panel (2000).

Although a large converging body of literature suggests that phonological awareness (an understanding of different ways that oral language can be divided into smaller components and manipulated) is one of the best predictors of early reading success, there also is evidence indicating the importance of focusing on phonemic awareness (the understanding that words are made up of individual sounds or phonemes and the ability to manipulate these phonemes).

The following skills have been shown to be particularly important for helping pre-kindergartners learn how to break the code as part of the beginning-to-read process: (1) the alphabetic principle (the written language is a code for sounds), (2) phonological and phonemic awareness (alliteration, rhyming, phoneme segmentation, phoneme blending), and (3) phonics knowledge (letter sounds). A number of research-based interventions now exist to address these early reading skills in pre-kindergarten children.

Click here for a sample of research-based early reading interventions targeting pre-kindergarten children.

For more information, click on these links:

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