Your kids are home and you’re worried about their progress in school. For preschoolers and kindergarteners, keeping their reading skills up may be easier than you think. There are a few simple steps to make sure your child has the foundational skills to be ready to read.
Reading is actually based on our understanding of the sounds and sound combinations in our language. This is called “phonological awareness.” Even before children learn the alphabet or start to recognize common sight words, they begin to understand which sounds we have in English, how those sounds are combined, how sentences are made up of words, and how words are made up of sounds. The best thing you can do to help your child get ready to read is develop their phonological awareness.
1. Read with your child
First and most importantly, read with your child. Pick books they like, and re-read them as many times as they want (or as you can stand). If they don’t like to read, try a short book or a few pages every day until they get used to it. Point out the title and author. Follow along with your finger as you read. Point out the punctuation and explain what it means, and find common sight words or letters your child already knows. As they learn to recognize some words, let them read those words. Don’t worry about asking them to sound out unfamiliar words – they’ll develop this skill as they learn more complex phonics rules in school. Talk about the stories and what is happening in them. They’ll learn how books are set up, some letters, some common words, and reading comprehension without even realizing it.
2. Talk about the sounds in words
Then, talk about the sounds in words. To start, try to talk mostly about the sounds you hear instead of the letters that make them. For example, say, “No” starts with the sound “nnnnnn” instead of saying “No starts with the letter ‘n’.” That’s because talking about the sounds develops their phonological awareness, while talking about the letters develops their connection between the sound and how it’s written. They need to develop their phonological awareness first.
Rhyme silly words with their name or their favorite toys, and read rhyming books. Help them come up with more rhyming words or silly made up rhyming words. Point out when words start with the same sound. Divide up compound words, like airplane, into their parts (air – plane).
As you spend time reading and talking, your child will likely begin to try to rhyme or identify sounds and words on their own, without you even asking. Kids learn language best when they are having fun, so keep the demand low, the engagement high, and they’ll be ready to read in no time.
If you or a loved one is in need of Speech Language Pathology please call us today at 586-323-2957 to get started.