Helping your child with beginning reading

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Reading with your child is one of the most important things you can do for your child in preparing them for success in school. Besides providing a wonderful opportunity for building relationships and communication, reading together can introduce your child to new concepts and information. Reading with your child also helps to develop their listening skills and vocabulary.

• Find time to read with your child everyday.

• Teach them about our printed language (with books, signs, labels etc.).

• Help them to develop sound awareness (rhyming songs, books, games, alphabet games).

• Help your child understand the relationship of letters, sounds and words.

• Have your child write out letters while saying the sound the letter makes at the same time.

• While reading, occasionally point out the sounds in a word one at a time, showing them the parts that make up the whole of the word.

• Choose easy to read, enjoyable stories and point out words you know your child can read on their own.

• Introduce your child to the patterns within our language; i.e., make, take or path, bath.

• Talk about what you have read together. Take breaks while reading to discuss what has happened or what might happen in the story.

• Remember to keep reading time with your child as an enjoyable time. It need not be more than fifteen minutes at a time.

Decoding is the skill of sounding out printed language. To help your child become an effective decoder, begin helping him/her with the basics and build on the language gradually. For instance, help your child sound out three-letter, short vowel sound words first, such as: mat, pen, sit, mop, or cup. Later add on more complex words.

When your child comes across an unknown word that he/she is seemingly “stuck” on, have them trace over the word with his/her finger one letter at a time. While tracing each letter, have the child say the sound of the letter at the same time. This works best for phonetic words as opposed to sight words, but is a very useful tool in figuring out unknown or new words.

If your child has difficulty blending sounds together, model stretching out the sounds in a word, almost in a singing fashion and have them do the same. If he/she has difficulty blending three sounds together, go back to blending just two sounds. Initially stick with short vowel sound words, then move on to more complex words.