Phonemic Awareness for Pre Reading

reading strategiesLearning to read is by far one of the greatest accomplishments of a person’s life. Yet, so often we tend to take this amazing feat for granted. As a homeschool mother, with each of my children I seemingly sweat bullets every time it came to teach them how to read. I guess I realized all too well how vital this ability was to their future success in school. Consequently, on the flip side of that…. is the realization that when taught phonemic awareness on a regular basis the child will eventually read when they are ready. It took me just six kids to realize that one!

When I begin to teach a little one how to read I always start with the basics. Here is a simple timeline of my process for providing them with pre-reading skills.

1) Start with basic letter recognition

2) Build to letter sound recognition

3) Teach consonant and vowels

4) Build to consonant and vowel blends

5) Teach children how to make ABC order

6) Build to consonant blends

7) Teach children how to decode words ( short sound, long sound, special sounds)

8) Introduce short words

9) Build on that!

Learning to Read…

This year my last little sweety will officially be school age. Which also means that she will be learning to read. I have homeschooled five children already, and even tuaght dozens of children at school how to read yet, somehow teaching my own how to read gives me a bit of anxiety. In my mind, there’s just something pivotal…crucial…or foundational about reading skills that just make me want to be sure to get it right!

She has already completed all of the preschool levels on Time4Learning, and even half of the kindergarten lessons. She seems to know all her letters and sounds, so I know we are close… I’m so excited to be able to help her unlock this door to so many opportunities. Yet… it will still be a challenge.

Here is my simple breakdown of how we start reading at our house…

1) After they know their letter and sounds we usually begin learning blends – ┬áby blending a consonant and a vowel. We’ll practice sounding out these until they do it quickly.

2) Once blends are nicely in hand we move on to special sounds (sometimes these steps overlap). You know those sounds that really have no rules to back them up… like gn in gnat… I have a set of flashcards and little posters that we use to review them…

3) After we master the special sounds or consonant blends we’ll move to blending small words like ca-t and do-g. ┬áSite words (dolch site words are a great list to use) are good to add in while you are working on three letter words.

4) You can move to long vowel sound and then longer words…. also adding more “special sounds” that weren’t learned previously. Sounds like “au in faucet” should be introduced as the child begins learning more difficult words!

The stages and steps are not concrete, and often we’ll enter a different stage while still working on a previous one. There are lots of other things I throw in to enrich the learning process… but these few steps are the basic building blocks to learning how to read. They really are simple…you’d think anyone could it… even me!

Quick tips on learning to read…

Ahhh… the beginning reader… their little minds are so fresh and eager… Most of the time these little ones are so excited about being able to do what mommy and daddy do every day. Their eagerness can be catchy… in fact, it always gets me excited when they learn how to read their first word… what a milestone!!!

Teaching a child how to read isn’t an exact science… it’s simply plodding along. I know that sounds weird, yet it really is a process… and sometimes a slow one. The most reliable method of learning how to read is the phonetically based method. Here are a few quick pointers on how to get started in the right direction.

1. Begin with the letter names and sounds. Focus on the short vowel sounds. I sometimes add human characteristics to the vowels to make it more fun… like “What does Mr. A say?” or “What is this letter’s name?”

2. Once they know the vowel sounds very well… start adding consonant sounds. Begin making blend families with one consonant letter and each of the vowels. D says d… and can be added to the vowels like this… d…a…da!

3. Go through the entire alphabet learning the consonants and adding them to the vowels to make consonant and vowel blends.

4. Begin learning 3 letter words by adding a consonant to the end of these vowel/consonant blends. “C…a…ca…t” Try making words out of all of the blend families that you learned previously. Introduce some small sight words during this time. The Dolch words are great for this. Ie. “the, an, a”

5. Once three letter words are an easy thing, move on to learning four letter words. I usually use this rule to introduce the concept, “When there are two vowels in a word the first one says its long sound and the second one is silent.” I use a pencil to mark the vowels visually so that the child can see this. Begin practicing marking the vowels and pronouncing four letter words with two vowels.

6. Move on to consonant blends such as “ck says ck in duck.” There are several suppliers that make great flashcards of groups of these “special sounds.” They really help make teaching these sounds much easier.

7. Have children practice identifying these special sounds in words by circling them. Pronounce words that contain your new special sound each week.

8. While covering these special sounds, work on improving the reader’s fluency and speed. Also, a focus on comprehension is necessary. The reader should be able to read a sentence/paragraph and then tell you exactly what it means in his/her own words. Using other tools as your child is learning to read can reap great benefits. Practicing letter sounds through online language arts programs or even worksheets is a good way to instill these new principles.