Part 3: The Making of a Good Reader!
We are coming to the end of our series. In Part 2 we discussed reading as it pertains to 3 to 7 year olds. Let’s wrap this up with steps ranging from 4 to 7+ years of age. Remember, phonemic awareness is the foundation of reading. It is our understanding of sound structures. These structures are present in the words we say when reading sentences or talking to the individual sounds we read to form those words.
There are “expected” age ranges for each step of the phonemic learning processes. Remember, every child is different, so some may jump through the stages with ease and others may need a boost. If you believe your child may be “stuck” on a stage, or needs a boost, we are here for you. We are ready to talk about your child and help address those concerns.
Step 8: 4 to 7+ years
Your child will learn both the phoneme (sound) and grapheme (letter) correspondence and that there are sometimes multiple phonemes for one letter, or more than one letter that makes the same phoneme. How confusing! Thank you, English language.
Schools should be using a good phonics program when working with your child to help develop the skills of letter knowledge. A good phonics program should include:
Using phonics to blend and segment written words, starting with one sound-one letter correspondence. For example, tap, cat, pig.
Teach that one sound consonant can be represented by a digraph (two letters) like /ch/ in “chat” or /sh/ in “sheet”.
Teaching this concept also can apply to vowel digraphs like “steady” or “pain”.
Teaching those tricky letter combinations such as “igh” and “tion”.
Identify initial, end, and medial sounds with their corresponding letters.
Step 9: 5 to 7+ years
This one may surprise you, but phonics teaching alone will not make your child a good reader. They need to rely on other skills as well. Phonics alone doesn’t teach them that pictures, graphs, page layouts, paragraphs, chapter divisions, and other context clues help them to understand the stories they are reading and build on their knowledge of the subject. This is where you can shine as a parent. It is hard to teach phonics at home, but you can teach how to look at the pictures to see what you are reading about. Look at the graphs to see how the information is laid out. Look at where a chapter ends and begins, creating an author’s flow of writing. When you sit with your child, no matter what age, use these ideas to help them develop a “whole view” of reading. Older children can see it as a book club while younger children will just enjoy the quality time they are spending with you.
Step 10: 5 to 7+ years
Lastly, let’s talk about spelling. We teach our children that letters make sounds and when put together, the sounds make words. Therefore, children use this tool to spell. It is important for children to know the letter names at this stage because some words cannot be spelled phonetically. For example, “phone” has to be spelled with letter names “ph” otherwise it would be “fone”. Same rule applies to words like “what”. You have to use the letter names, otherwise it would be “wot”. There are high frequency words, like “they”, “was”, and “are” that are taught to be memorized rather than sounding them out. Practice spelling words using different methods to help your child retain the information. Have them fill in the blank “m _ lk” or multiple choice can be an alternative to just writing it out.
If you notice that your child has a difficult time retaining phonics, reading words, and understanding what they have read, let us know. If they have trouble spelling words, they spell one word multiple ways, and it is hard to interpret what they have written, please contact us. We can talk through your child’s difficulties and come up with a plan.
What are the strategies you use at home with your child to promote reading and spelling?