Concepts about Print – 22 concepts that all parents and teachers need to know


Welcome back to Creating A Learning Environment. This is our second blog in our new reading series. If you missed last weeks blog, which was the first blog in the series, click on the link below to read it.

Reading strategies to teach children 4- 9 year olds

This blog is all about the essential concepts about texts that children need to know in order to become successful readers. These concepts develop over time and it is hoped by the end of Kindergarten most children would know all 22.

Below is an outline of what each concept is, how you can check if your child knows each concept and a free concepts of print table that you can print off and use with your child or children in your classroom.

The concepts of print can be categorised into five sections.

Section 1 – Book concepts


1. Identifies front of book – does the child know where the front cover is?

2. Identifies back of book – does the child know where the back cover is?

3. Identifies the title – can the child find where the title is?

Section 2 – Reading Concepts


4. Words carry meaning – does the child know that we read the words and not the pictures?

5. One to One correspondence – can the child point to each word when an adult is reading?

Section 3 – Directionality Concepts


6. Identifies the beginning of the text – can the child point to the beginning of the text on the correct page?

7. Left to right and top to bottom – does the child understand that we read left to right and top to bottom?

8. Return Sweep – does the child know that when you finish one line you go down to the next line, starting on the left?

Section 4 – Letter and word concepts


9. First word on page – can the child point to the first word on the page?

10. Last word on page – can the child point to the last word on the page?

11. Identifies one word and two words – can the child point to one word and then show two words with their fingers?

12. First letter in a word – can the child show the first letter in a word?

13. Last Letter in a word – can the child show the last letter in that word?

14. Identifies one letter and two letters – can the child point to one letter and then show two letters with their fingers?

15. Naming 3 letters on the page – Can the child name and point to three letters?

Section 5 – Punctuation marks


16. Capital letter – can the child point to a capital letter on the page?

17. Lower case letter – can the child point to a small letter on the page?

18. Full stop – can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

19. Question mark – can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

20. Exclamation mark – can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

21. Comma – can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

22. Quotation marks (Speech Marks) – can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

If you are checking to see if your child or a child in your class has an understanding of each concept you can use the questions below to guide you. You can pick any book with large print and ask a few questions for each page. Do not try and ask all questions on one page. Ensure you read the child the story as well so it is an engaging task for them. You can start the session by asking them to help you learn about books.

Concept What to ask
Identifies front of book“Show me the front of this book.” 
Identifies back of book“Show me the back of this book.” 
Identifies the title“Show me the name of this book or story.” 
Words carry meaning“Show me where I start reading.” 
One to One correspondence“You point to the words while I read the story.” (Read slowly, but fluently). 
Identifies the beginning of the text“Show me with your finger where I have to begin reading.” 
Left to right and top to bottom“Show me with your finger which way I go as I read this page.” 
Return Sweep“Where do I go then?”
First word on page“Use your finger to show me the first word on this page.” 
Last word on page“Use your finger to show me the last word on this page.” 
Identifies one word and two words“Move your fingers until I can see one word. Now, show me two words.” 
First letter in a word“Show me the first letter in a word.” 
Last letter in a word“Show me the last letter in a word.” 
Identifies one letter and two letters“Move your fingers and show me one letter. Now, show me two letters.” 
Naming 3 letters on a page“Show me three letters that you know on this page and tell me the name of each one.” 
Capital letter“Use your finger to show me a capital letter.” 
Lowercase letter“Use your finger to show me a small letter.” 
Full stop“What is this called?” or “What is this for?” 
Question mark“What is this called?” or “What is this for?” 
Exclamation mark“What is this called?” or “What is this for?” 
Comma“What is this called?” or “What is this for?” 
Quotation marks (Speech marks)“What are these called?” or “What are these for?”

The questions above can be used every time you read with your child. You wouldn’t ask all these questions each time but you may pick a few to focus on. It is important for children to know how texts work in order to have a great start as a beginning reader.

Below is a free card that we have made that you may want to put in your child’s book or somewhere in the classroom as a reference point for you. Click on the document link and simply print.

Concepts about Print CLE

We hope you have found this article insightful and helpful. Next week the third blog of the reading series will be uploaded. If you would like to read more from this author please click on some of her recent articles below.

10 Ways To Help Your Child With Math

10 Ways To Help Your Child Learn To Read

How to increase your child’s achievement through a “growth mindset”

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

Reading strategies to teach children 4 – 9 years old


When we start teaching children to read, it is essential that we give them the “tools” to be successful. The main purpose when teaching a child to read is that they develop their level of comprehension. There are many elements that affect comprehension such as fluency, level of vocabulary, field knowledge (Are they familiar with the concepts that the text presents eg Antarctica or a circus?), reading strategies and their critical thinking skills.

This blog is the first article in our new series about the little details every parent and teacher needs to know about reading. In the blog today, we are focusing on 12 strategies that children must be taught to be able to work out unknown words.

Successful readers are confident at using many of these strategies and are able to select the correct one to use when faced with an unknown word. Many children plateau on a reading level because they have insufficient strategies. Their strategies may work at lower level texts but as the text gets more complicated they need to develop other strategies.

Below is a list of the 12 strategies with a brief description about each. How many of these does your child use?

1. Look at the Picture

The child needs to do a “picture walk” through the book before reading it. Ensure that they understand what could be happening. Get the child to look for clues in the picture to help them decode an unknown word.

2. What sounds are in the word?

Try not to use the words “sound it out”. Encourage your child to look for all the familiar sounds they know and put them together. eg ing, sh, er, br, ough

3. Look for smaller words within the word

Encourage your child to find smaller words in the unknown word that may help them. Eg homework

4. Break word into syllables

Breaking the word up will help the task of working out the word seem more achievable for your child. eg unbelievable    -un be liev a ble

5. Use the punctuation to help

Get your child to look all around the word to see if there are any punctuation clues. A question mark at the end of the sentence could help your child work out what type of word it may start with. Speech marks or quotation marks helps the child realise that it is what the character is saying. This may give them another clue.

6. Go back and read it again

When your child solves an unknown words, especially if it took them a little while always encourage them to go back to the beginning of the sentence and read it fluently to ensure they are reading for meaning.

7. Read on

Children can skip a word and read on until the end of the sentence. This strategy is like a cloze passage and checks to see if they are reading for meaning.


8. Listen to your voice

Many children do not listen to themselves while they read. This is essential at the beginning stages and children need to hear how they sound to check they are saying the correct word. You can even record them reading and play it back to them.


9. Does the word look like another word you know?

Ask your child if they know any other words that look similar and could help them work out the word. eg trough for an animal is like cough. Same sound ending with the same spelling.


10. Imagine what is happening

Get the child to visualise what is happening in the text. This will really help them to connect with what they are reading and work out possible words that may come up. eg Reading about putting out a fire usually would include the words fireman, hose, ladder etc


11. Ask a question

The child can think about a question that might help them work out the unknown word if they are reading for meaning. Eg What is the name of a car that has no roof? = convertible


12. Does it make sense?

Get the child to ask themselves, does their reading make sense?. If it did not then they have to go back and read it again.

Below is a table with all the twelve strategies for you to share with your child and help them to remember what tools they have in their reading tool belt to help them solve unknown words.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 4.44.59 pm

(Copyright) Creating A Learning Environment

How to use the table?

  • Put colour counters on a strategy each time they use one
  • Use it as a memory card that can fit into their home reader. (like a bookmark)
  • Talk about two strategies the child is going to focus on by pointing to them.
  • When a child gets “stuck” on a word, give them the table and they can choose a strategy to try.

It is important that children can name their strategy that they are using. This helps with their metacognition – deep understanding about the concept of reading. The strategies increase in difficulty but it is important for children to use all strategies to be a successful reader. It can be tempting to just give the answers to a child but they learn nothing from that experience. They need to try and use some strategies themselves to work out the unknown word to experience real learning. As adults, these strategies are built in from years of reading. For a beginning reader (4-9 years old) they need to be explicitly taught.

Next week, part 2 of this blog series will be online. In the meantime if you want to read more articles from this author click on the links below.

20 ways to help your child learn their sight words

20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.

20 ways to help your child learn their sounds

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

Kindergarten interviews – What you need to know

It is this time of year that many primary schools commence Kindergarten enrolment interviews with children and their families for the next year. It may seem quite early but most interviews are in full swing across the country.

This can be an anxious time for parents as they are afraid of the unknown. Many parents want their children to “perform” in order to get a place at the school they believe will offer their child the best opportunities. In this blog I share 5 myths about the Kindergarten interview to help shed some light on some of the worries that parents hold.

  1. Your child will be offered a place if they perform well

Getting offered a place for your child for primary school the following year is determined by many things, but one of them is not how “academic” they are. Most places are offered on catchment area (the proximity that your residential address is from the school) Occasionally state schools do offer places to children who are on the border or have extenuating circumstances. In most faith based schools places are offered in order of what category that you fall into. Category one are baptised children who practice the faith in the Parish area. Category two are siblings of children already attending the school. Category three are baptised children who practice the faith in a different parish area. These three categories are given priority. After the places have been filled by children in these three categories all other children are considered. This includes baptised children who do not practice their faith, children from other faiths and other pastoral reasons.

2. I need to prepare my child for the interview


Parents may feel anxious about the interview because they do not know what to expect. They may feel that they need to “prepare” their child but are unaware of what they need to be focusing on. Firstly I want to say that you do not need to PREPARE your child for activities they may need to do in the interview. Think of the interview as a conversation between the school and family. It is a time for you to ask questions about the school and get a feel for the culture of the school. I would encourage parents to talk to their child about the upcoming interview to reassure the child that they get a chance to have a look at a “big” school. Children like to know about what will happen in order to feel comfortable so mentioning that the the Principal and possibly another teacher may ask them some questions about themselves will put them at ease. That is as much as you need to tell them. Get them excited about this new adventure and rest assure that no matter what happens in the interview places are given by a strict protocol not by what your child says or does not say in the interview.

3. The interview is like an exam

We need to put the interview in perspective. The interview is conducted about 8 months prior to starting school. The principal and other teachers on the panel are well aware that children will change so much in that time. Some children will take leaps in their learning, will mature over that time and really become ready for school even though you can not imagine them at school now. The principal or teacher may ask your child a couple of questions and ask them to do a couple of tasks. This is not a test but simply a basic measure to see where the child is at with their learning and identify any obvious areas that may need further investigation. They may be asked to name some colours, write their name, count some objects and answer questions about their interests.

4. I wont tell them about my child’s need as I fear they will not get offered a place

During the many kindergarten interviews that I have done, this by far is the one that parents are most fearful about. They are worried that the Principal or teacher will see their child’s “true” colours in the interview and as a result will not get a place. It is so IMPORTANT to ensure that the school has a true image on what your child’s needs are. Early intervention is the most successful strategy to helping children develop skills or concepts so it is important that schools are made aware of any current intervention happening. This may even be notifying them about an appointment time to a specialist in the upcoming months. Schools appreciate parents being proactive and by giving the school this information they are able to make the transition for your child smoother and more successful. If the school knows your child’s needs from day one they are able to put strategies in place for your child to help them make the change from preschool to primary school with less stress and anxiety. Remember that children are not given places in regards to their academic skills or behaviour.

5. I do not want to appear silly so I will not ask any questions
The interview is not only a chance for the school to learn more about your child but a chance for you to learn about the school. Ask questions about what you want to know. What features of a school are you looking for? You want to walk out of the school with a really good understanding about what they are on about and the priorities they have. Each school is different and it is important to find one that suits your family.

Hopefully you have found this blog insightful and you are feeling more positive about the upcoming kindergarten interview that you have. Enjoy this experience as you begin this new chapter of parenting.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

Information and advice to help your child in school – Part 2

meaningful tasks

We started our blog series,”Information and advice to help your child in school” last week. This week we have Part 2.  In this week’s blog we have put together 5 insightful articles from Creating A Learning Environment that will help parents with support, advice and tips to ensure their child is reaching their potential. The articles cover a variety of topics in order to give specific assistance to all parent’s concerns.

1. Reading Levels


A reading level (whether it be a number, colour or letter, depending on the book) indicates to the teacher what type of reader the child is. A child could be a beginner reader, emergent (developing) reader or an independent reader. The level is usually displayed at the front or back of the book. A reading level is given by a teacher who has conducted a “running record”, which is a reading assessment tool. Click on the link below to get essential information about reading levels.

What K-2 teachers want you to know: Reading Levels

2. Addition and Subtraction


Children need to have many opportunities to problem solve using mental strategies before they are exposed to more rigid, procedural strategies. We want our children to approach each Mathematical task creatively and critically. The link below shows addition and subtraction strategies that will benefit your young child. I like to think of these as tools for your child’s problem solving toolbox. Each tool has a different purpose and when used correctly can help a child solve a number problem successfully.

Teaching Mathematics to Young Children: Addition and Subtraction

3. Reading strategies

reading 2

Teaching children about reading strategies is equipping them with tools to solve reading problems. Using reading strategies effectively will help children become confident, fluent and expressive readers who develop a love of reading. By clicking on the link below, you will read about effective reading strategies that will benefit your child.

How to read with your child – Reading Strategies

4. Print Concepts


In order for children to read they need to know how a book works. This is what teachers call “Print Concepts”. Most children are expected to know about some of these concepts prior to starting school, while others are developed through Kindergarten and Year 1. In NSW schools, children are tested on their knowledge of Print Concepts at the beginning of Kindergarten, end of Kindergarten, Year 1 and at any other point for “at risk” readers (children not meeting benchmarks). It is important for parents to have a good understanding about Print Concepts in order to help develop their child’s understanding of them. Most parents refer to print concepts while reading to their child without even realising it. Below is the link to the Print Concepts article.

How to read with young children: Print Concepts

5. Place Value


Place value is the understanding of “where” a digit is in a number and knowing the value of it. For example, in the number 6 023, the place value of 2 is “tens” and in the number 2.43, the place value of 3 is “hundredths”. A solid understanding of place value allows the child to read, write, order and interpret numbers confidently.

Below is a list of the growth points of “place value” that children should move through and parent tips of how to support their child at home to achieve a given growth point.

Teaching Mathematics to Young Children – Place Value

Hopefully these five articles has given you some guidance and understanding when helping your child grasp literacy and numeracy concepts.

Next week, Part 3 of the series will be available with another 5 educational articles to help parents.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani