Children are ready to read at different ages. All children will have to master alphabet letters and sounds prior to learning how to read. When your child is ready make every beginning reading opportunity as successful and motivational as possible.
The beginning reader gaining momentum
The beginning reading process will have its share of bumps along the way. As children master sight words and gain confidence in predictable sentence structures they should be more willing to sound out words. It takes a combination of phonics and high frequency word recognitions to move out of what is termed pre-emergent reading levels.
Why is it important to make learning to sound out words fun?
Motivational strategies to sound out words, as your child is demonstrating phonetic awareness (understanding that words are comprised of a sequence of sounds), will help your child move past pre-reading skills. Struggling through the sound/ letters make together to form words (phonemes) can be both frustrating and beyond puzzling for even the motivated new reader. I have found that creating memorable connections to letter combinations to be a powerful starting point for a child to put together the pieces of how letters combine to make sounds!
How do I start helping my child sound out words?
Most children master beginning consonant/vowel patterns first (the first letter and vowel in each word ie. ca in cat).
1. Start by demonstrating the appropriate sound to make for each letter in a consonant/vowel/ consonant pattern (c-v-c). An example might be the sound /m-e-t/ makes in the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern words such as (met, let, bet, get).
2. Ask your child, “What do each 2 letters have in common?” (m-e for met, l-e for let, and g-e for get).
3. Allow wait time for your child to figure out that the e makes the short /eh/ sound. Have them practice this short /eh/ sound.
The fun part!
I have found that having a child say the sound of the short e /eh/ with a physical action that they design, such as singing the short vowel sound each and every time they start to read a consonant/vowel/consonant word pattern, allows them to mentally and physically remember the necessary short sound the e will make.
How do you teach your child to automatically use the c/v/c pattern to decode words?
1. Model the action/c-v-c or connection with enthusiasm.
2. Have your child practice the letter pattern with the action.
3. Have them apply the pattern and action to new words with that same pattern.
4. Every time you and your child see that pattern in Stepping Stones Together books and beyond model the pattern and/or ask your child to show you the action!
5. You’ll be surprised at how often they will remember! It makes this new challenging process a fun learning experience!