Reading is such an interesting concept that we just accept as something we do. If you think about it, we are asking little kids to pick up a book and know by example how to hold it, turn the pages, and then how to read words. But how do we jump from listening to actually reading the texts on the page? PHONICS! Phonemic awareness is our understanding of sound structures.
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 1: Newborn to 1 year
Talk to your baby! Simple enough, right. Babies don’t care what you are saying, it is all about the tone and facial expressions. Tell your baby what you are doing, how awesome they are, and any of your other internal thoughts. Believe it or not, this type of listening helps later when they are trying to distinguish between word families (log, fog, dog). Your baby is on the “right” phonetic track if they are talking through babbling, recognizing words that you are saying (hungry, more, milk), and showing an interest in listening to you talk.
Step 2: 1 to 2 years
With all that talking your child now is able to understand between 200-500 words. Wowsers! They can isolate that, “Do you want some more?” is saying, “More?” This helps them to later isolate important information when reading a story. Generally speaking, your child should be able to say around 20 to 50 words by the end of this step. As a parent, point out sounds in the environment, both language and everyday sounds (birds, dogs, fire trucks). When your child engages in sound play, they build their sound knowledge which will later turn into playing with words (rhymes and nonsense words) This is a good way to see your child’s sensitivity to sounds in words.
Step 3: 2 to 4 years
Now your child is getting on/off, big/little, 1 and 2, colors, and so much more. When you show your child the meaning of words, “This is wet. This is dry.” while experiencing it hands on, they are working through the multiple meaning words that they will later see in texts. As your child talks about their experiences make sure to put their words into correct sentence structures. This only helps their reading and writing abilities later on down the road. At about 3 years old, a child will start to store sounds and use them independently in different situations. Meaning, they have their favorite nursery rhymes, songs, or stories that they want to hear over and over again, and that they can sing or tell it back. This play on words helps them later enjoy the structure of a story (beginning, middle, end).
Wow! That’s a lot of learning for someone so small. Can you just imagine what happens in Stages 4-10 when a child is three to seven years of age?
What do you think will be the next step to help your child develop into a healthy reader?
–Lindsey Binford, M. Ed