Unit 2: Pre-academics

2.1 Pre reading - picture reading, Matching colors and shapes, Phonetics.

2.2 Pre writing –– controlled use of writing implements (columing, written lines), scribbling, tracing, copying.

2.3 Pre-Math – Matching, Grouping, Classification, Sequencing, Pattern making.

2.4 Foundational Academic concepts – alphabet identification, numeric identification,

2.5 Functional literacy – identifying community specific functional words – filling in forms, reading functional words, phrases, sentences. Application of functional academics in community














2.1 Pre reading - picture reading, Matching colors and shapes, Phonetics.

Simply put, pre-reading skills are the skills your child needs in their arsenal before they learn to read. These are things that will ease the stress and difficulty of learning to read when they begin formal education. Helping develop pre-reading skills is one of the best things a parent can do to prepare their child for reading.


For young readers, picture books are an important part of learning how to read. Usually this type of format marks the first step in introducing a child to reading and is often the start of language development for many children. Libraries that include picture books to promote literacy to young readers are boosting beginner-level vocabulary skills, introducing sentence structure and developing story analysis. 

Building Language Skills – When reading through picture books during story time, at home or in the classroom, children can practice sounding out the language while adults introduce and explain new and interesting words. The rhythm and rhyme of picture books makes them easy to understand and fun to read aloud, allowing children to learn words quickly.

Inspiring Visual Thinking - Illustrations in a picture book help children understand what they are reading, allowing new readers to analyze the story. If children are having difficulty with the words, the illustrations can help them figure out the narrative, which can increase their comprehension.

Increasing Engagement – Picture books allow teachers and parents to spend time discussing the story, pictures and words. This gives young readers confidence and allows them to talk about what they see on the page, what happened in the story, what the characters are doing and which events have unfolded.  Another good activity to try in the library or classroom is working in a small groups by placing children into groups of three with a picture book. Have one child concentrate on reading the text aloud; have another concentrate on the illustrations (pointing out details as the book is read); and have the third highlight what they see in the story that might differ from the others.

Delivering Fun – Picture books should always make the reading experience fun. If a child’s first experience with reading is a negative one, and looked at as a chore, it may make reading appear to be work rather than fun, which might hinder a child’s progress from picture books to chapter books.


Matching is an important early childhood math skill that helps in classification of objects. Matching is identification of same or similar objects based on their common properties. And this skill keeps recurring through out schooling life in various forms. For example, matching skills are used to identify congruent or similar triangles. In algebra, matching can be thought of as a one-to-one correspondence function between two sets. Important early matching skills that a young child needs to develop are:

1.     Matching by Shape

2.     Matching by Size

3.     Matching by Colour


Activities for matching and sorting skills


Phonological awareness is the piece that comes before phonics.  It is being able to hear that words are made up of smaller sounds and playing with those individual sounds.

Letter knowledge is understanding that letters look different from one another and have their own name and sound. It encompasses everything involved in helping a child learn to identify letter names and sounds.

Some Key Phonological Awareness Skills:

Phonological awareness is a specialized type of listening skill that is necessary for children to learn to read. Being able to identify and play with these word parts is essential for future success with phonics. A child’s emerging phonological awareness starts with enjoyment of stories, poems and songs that have rhyming or alliteration. Starting around age 3 or 4, your child will begin to show increasing skill at playing with words by changing sounds or syllables or telling you about his discoveries about sound patterns in words. At that point, you can start introducing phonological awareness activities that directly focus on breaking apart and blending word parts.

Tips to Help Your Child With Phonological Awareness

2.2 Pre writing –– controlled use of writing implements (columing, written lines), scribbling, tracing, copying.

Pre-writing skills are the fundamental skills children need to develop before they are able to write. These skills contribute to the child’s ability to hold and use a pencil, and the ability to draw, write, copy, and colour. A major component of pre-writing skills are the pre-writing shapes. These are the pencil strokes that most letters, numbers and early drawings are comprised of. They are typically mastered in sequential order, and to an age specific level. These strokes include the following strokes: |, —, O, +, /, square, \, X, and Δ.

Pre-writing skills are essential for the child to be able to develop the ability to hold and move a pencil fluently and effectively and therefore produce legible writing. When these skills are underdeveloped it can lead to frustration and resistance due to the child not being able to produce legible writing or to ‘keep up’ in class due to fatigue. This can then result in poor self esteem and academic performance.

What are the building blocks necessary to develop writing readiness (pre-writing)?

·         Hand and finger strength: An ability to exert force against resistance using the hands and fingers that allows the necessary muscle power for controlled movement of the pencil.

·         Crossing the mid-line: The ability to cross the imaginary line running from a person’s nose to pelvis that divides the body into left and right sides.

·         Pencil grasp: The efficiency of how the pencil is held, allowing age appropriate pencil movement generation.

·         Hand eye coordination: The ability to process information received from the eyes to control, guide and direct the hands in the performance of a task such as handwriting.

·         Bilateral integration: Using two hands together with one hand leading (e.g. holding and moving the pencil with the dominant hand while the other hand helps by holding the writing paper).

·         Upper body strength: The strength and stability provided by the shoulder to allow controlled hand movement for good pencil control.

·         Object manipulation: The ability to skilfully manipulate tools (including holding and moving pencils and scissors) and controlled use of everyday tools (such as a toothbrush, hairbrush, cutlery).

·         Visual perception: The brain’s ability to interpret and make sense of visual images seen by the eyes, such as letters and numbers.

·         Hand dominance: The consistent use of one (usually the same) hand for task performance, which allows refined skills to develop.

·         Hand division: Using just the thumb, index and middle finger for manipulation, leaving the fourth and little finger tucked into the palm stabilizing the other fingers but not participating.


What activities can help improve writing readiness (pre-writing) skills?

·         Threading and lacing with a variety of sized laces.

·         Play-doh (playdough) activities that may involve rolling with hands or a rolling pin, hiding objects such as coins in the play dough or just creative construction.

·         Scissor projects that may involve cutting out geometric shapes to then paste them together to make pictures such as robots, trains or houses.

·         Tongs or teabag squeezers to pick up objects.

·         Drawing or writing on a vertical surface.

·         Every day activities that require finger strength such as opening containers and jars.

·         Pre writing shapes: Practice drawing the pre-writing shapes (l, —, O, +, /, square, \, X, and Δ).

·         Finger games: that practice specific finger movements such as Incy wincy Spider.

·         Craft: Make things using old boxes, egg cartons, wool, paper and sticky or masking tape.

·         Construction: Building with duplo, lego, mobilo or other construction toys.


2.3 Pre-Math – Matching, Grouping, Classification, Sequencing, Pattern making.

Pre-math skills (referred to in British English as pre-maths skills) are math skills learned by preschoolers and kindergarten students, including learning to count numbers (usually from 1 to 10 but occasionally including 0), learning the proper sequencing of numbers, learning to determine which shapes are bigger or smaller, and learning to count objects on a screen or book. Pre-math skills are also tied into literacy skills to learn the correct pronunciations of numbers.

Teaching young children how to match, classify, and measure is an important part of developing early math skills because these skills help children identify and describe relationships between items. As a child care care provider, you can help young children learn these skills in several ways. 


Matching  is a simple form of sorting. It is finding items that are the same or alike, such as a pair of gloves. Matching can include finding items with the same specific characteristic (color, size or shape). For example, children can match two items that are the color blue.

It mainly involves one-to-one correspondence. The game “Memory” is one good way to teach young children about matching. This game begins with pairs of pictures face down. Each player flips over two cards. If  the cards match, the player keeps them and flips over two more cards. If they don’t match, the player flips them face down, and the next person has a turn to find a match.   


Classifying/sorting is the skill of sorting or grouping items by similar characteristics, such as colors, shapes or sizes. Children naturally classify toys by type and sort crayons by color. Children between the ages of 3 and 4 years old enjoy sorting and classifying objects usually by one characteristic (color, shape or size). If preschoolers do not know the names of colors or shapes, it may be helpful to ask them to find something that is the same color or shape as a specific item. As children develop, they can classify by more than one characteristic, such as sorting the green square blocks.

Preschoolers benefit from exploring a variety of materials and making discoveries. When selecting materials for young children, avoid any small items that could pose a choking hazard. As children explore a bin of rocks and leaves, they can learn which items are big, little, rough, smooth, thick, thin, hard, soft, wet or dry. Children are learning to classify items by similarities and differences.

It involves finding things that are the same, or alike, and grouping them by specific traits. For example, the bunch of animals in the picture to the right can be grouped based on their color or type of animal. You can have young children classify  anything, including blocks, leaves, plates, or toy cars. Once they have classified items, children can compare items further to learn more specific similarities and differences between items, both within and between matched groups.


Sequencing is arranging objects in order by size, location or position. Ordering requires the ability to see differences and compare multiple objects. For example, children in the classroom could be arranged from shortest to tallest, or story picture cards could be sequenced in the order the events happened in the story.

Car Race: Children can race cars down a track and then arrange the cars in the order they finished the race from first to last.

Which is Longer?: Give children several crayons of different lengths. Have them put two crayons side by side and then tell you which is longer. Try it with another pair of crayons. Have children put all of the crayons in order from shortest to longest.

Story Time: Using books such as the Three Bears or Three Billy Goats Gruff, children can line up the characters from smallest to largest. They can arrange the Three Bears’ porridge, chairs and beds by size.


Children observe patterns at school, at home, at play and in nature. They notice patterns in clothing, songs, nature and even their daily routine. Patterns are sequences that repeat. The ability to recognize patterns supports math skills. It helps children make predictions about what will come next.

The most common pattern is the ABAB pattern: red, blue, red, blue. Other patterns include the ABCABC pattern and AABAAB pattern. For example, circle, square, triangle, circle, square, triangle (ABCABC). Children can create patterns using colors, shapes, sizes or other characteristics that are repeated multiple times.

Pattern Blocks: Children can create a pattern with different colors of interlocking blocks. You can also give them picture cards with sample patterns, and children can try to recreate the pattern.

What is Missing?: Create examples of patterns on a piece of paper with fun foam shapes. Leave missing spaces in the pattern and have the children fill in the missing parts with extra fun foam shapes. For example, triangle, rectangle, circle, triangle, __________,circle, and have the child fill in the blank. As children become familiar with making patterns, you can increase the complexity of the pattern or the number of missing parts.

What Comes Next?: Ask children to tell you what comes next as you create a pattern. For example, horse, cat, dog, horse, cat, ________________.

Sound and Movement Patterns: Invite children to create physical patterns, such as clap-clap-hop, clap- clap-hop, or dance a pattern, such as shake, spin and wiggle (repeat).

2.4 Foundational Academic concepts – alphabet identification, numeric identification,


Recognition of letters is a fundamental part of learning how to read. Without it, children struggle learning letter sounds and recognizing words. Children who cannot recognize letter and name them with their sounds have difficult learning how to read.

Letter recognition is the ability to name letters, identify characteristics specific to said letter, and letter formation of all 26 uppercase and lowercase letter symbols used in the English language. That’s 52 letters total.

Letter recognition includes being able to differentiate between different letters and their shapes, and should be taught before, or at the very least, in conjunction with letter sounds.

This means that letter recognition skills are important and should not be passed over for letter sound practice! Children need to know letter names as well as letter sounds to experience ease in learning how to read.

How to teach letter recognition in preschool

There are a couple of important strategies to utilize when teaching letter recognition in preschool.

·         Explicit instruction in letter naming

·         Sorting activities to differentiate letter shapes

·         Letter formation

·         Exposure to letters in a variety of text formats

·         Fluency practice in letter identification

·         Fluency and accuracy assessments

What order to teach recognition of letters

·         Teach high-frequency letters first. This means that it’s not necessary to teach letters in alphabetical order.

·         Letters with higher frequency will have more meaning and allow more opportunities for preschoolers to practice letter recognition skills in various text contexts.

·         Separate letters that are visually confusing. For example, if your preschooler is struggling with letters G and O, don’t teach them at the same time.

·         Once letters have been mastered in isolation, provide sorting activities for additional comparison and practice.

·         If your preschooler has a mature pencil grasp, teach letter formation in conjunction with letter recognition.

·         When possible, teach letters that are simpler to print, often those with straight lines, before more complex letters.


Number recognition skills can be defined as “the ability to identify and name basic numerals”.

Number recognition can actually be broken down into separate skills – matching, identifying, and naming. When matching, a child can find the matching numeral when shown an example. This is the first step in number recognition. The child perceives the differences between the numerals.

Identifying is the next step. Identifying focuses on the ability to point out a numeral when named.

The next step is naming. In this step the child can name the numeral when asked.

And the final step is matching the numeral with the quantity of objects.

At its most basic level, numeral identification is a form of shape recognition, which can result in a simple association of the word “two” with the symbol ‘2’ without a cardinal meaning. This means that numeral identification can develop at a different rate to number knowledge.

Visual discrimination, or distinguishing a numeral by sight, is an important part of developing numeral recognition. Some numerals have a similar appearance, like 6 and 9, 1 and 7, or 2 and 5 are often confused or written backwards. Children need to be supported to identify and read them in their everyday environment and provided with numerous visual and tactile experiences.

Learning to identify, recognise and write numerals is an important part of early arithmetical development. When a young child learns the name of a numeral it sows the idea that a symbol can stand for a whole word.

When children acquire the skills of identifying numerals, they are ready for the next step, which is understanding the amount each numeral represents.

2.5 Functional literacy – identifying community specific functional words – filling in forms, reading functional words, phrases, sentences. Application of functional academics in community

Relevance of Functional Academics:

Learning functional academic skills for children with Mental Retardation is necessary in order to become independent and successfully seek employment. Declaration of UNESCO towards “Education for All” in 2000 AD, includes children with disabilities, this also addresses learning needs of students with Mental Retardation. Literacy skills of individuals with Mental Retardation are not the same as children with other special needs due to the limited intellectual capacity. However, individuals with Mental Retardation can use literacy and numeracy skills to some extent which are application-oriented if they are given right kind of training.


      Provide activities that focus on reading for information and leisure

      Provide activities that require the child to become more aware of his/her surrounding environment having the child list the names of all food stores in the community, or all hospitals and so on will increase his/her familiarity with the surrounding environment.

      Have the child collect food labels and compare the differences

      Allow them look up the names of the children's families in the phone book. Use the smaller local guide for this activity.

      Develop activities that will allow them to become familiar with menus, bus and train schedules, movie and television timetables, or job advertisements.


      Have the child make a list of things to do for the day.

      Have the child run a messenger service in the classroom so that he/she can write the messages and deliver them from one student to another.

      Provide activities for older children that incorporate daily writing skills necessary for independency such as social security forms, driver’s license application, and bank account applications and so on.


      Have the child buy something at the school store

      Have the child make up a budget on how they plan to use his/her allowance

      Encourage the child to cook in school or at home so that they can become more familiar with measurements

      Have the child record the daily temperature

      Involve the child in measuring the height of classmates

      Have older children apply for a loan or credit card

      Show the child how to use a daily planning book

      Provide activities that teach the child how to comparison-shop

      Provide the child with a make believe amount of money and a toy catalog and have them purchase items and fill out the forms.


·         Provide frequent opportunities for students to learn and socialize with typically developing peers.

·         Involve the student in group activities and clubs.

·         Provide daily social skills instruction.

·         Directly teach social skills, such as turn-taking, social distance, reciprocal conversations, etc.

·         Break down social skills into non-verbal and verbal components.

·         Explains rules / rationales behind social exchanges.

·         Provide frequent opportunities to practice skills in role-playing situations.

·         Provide opportunities to practice skills in many different environments.

·         Serve as a model for interactions with students.

·         Value and acknowledge each student’s efforts.

·         Provide many opportunities for students to interact directly with each other.

·         Work to expand the young child’s repertoire of socially mediated reinforcers (e.g. tickling, peek-a-boo, chase, etc.).

·         Ask students to imagine how their behavior might affect others.

·         Specifically comment on and describe what the student is doing.

·         Model tolerance and acceptance.

·         Provide opportunities for students to assume responsibilities, such as distributing papers.

·         Teach other students to ignore inappropriate attention-seeking behaviors.

·         Have other students (who demonstrate appropriate behavior) serve as peer tutors.

·         Be aware that some students may work better alone.

·         Carefully consider and monitor seating arrangements in the classroom.

·         If student is motivated by adult or peer attention, find ways to recognize positive contributions.