In this episode of Chatabout Children™ Podcast, we look at the foundations of learning to read and spell with a real focus on pre-schoolers. This is part 2 of this comprehensive topic and a guide can be found in Sonia’s e-book – 4 Power Tools to Ready your Preschooler to Read and Spell.
In part 1 we talked about practical strategies, speech and language milestones for 3-5 year olds, what to do if you are concerned that your child is not reaching those milestones, and oral language skills.
How oral language is linked to literacy
In the preschool period and early schooling, the real focus is for children to receive life experiences that are going to enrich their vocabulary. So, it’s really about having fun and incorporating things in your everyday life, and it’s not about sitting at a tabletop and forcing your child to learn to read or spell.
Because those life experiences will build their vocabulary and their view of how things operate in the real world. Think about this: your child starts out by learning to read. And as they grow older, they are reading to learn.
What is it? Phonological awareness is the conscious awareness of the sounds of language and that ability to reflect on the sounds in words.
For example, preschool children start to notice the following:
- Words that rhyme: mum and drum
- Words that sound odd
- Words with the same sound beginning
- Engaging a lot in sound play – making their own words and rhymes
5 ways to build phonological awareness
Here are the 5 ways to build phonological awareness:
- Syllable counting – learning how to break up words into smaller parts makes it easier for children to spell long words. For example: Break the word caterpillar into cat-er-pil-lar. Another tip: To make it fun, you can clap out the syllables.
- Rhyme time – is a great way to learn new words and get kids to think about how words can relate to each other. It sets the foundation to learn about word families and sounds that letters can make. For example: ‘fight’ and ‘night’ belong to the same word family.
- Hearing the first sound in a word – You can start with family names from photos. For “Here’s Sally. What’s the first sound that we hear when we say Sally?” Another tip: You can use catalogues from supermarkets and let your child identify the first sound of products.
- Sounding out words – It’s not about the spelling of words, it’s about the sounds. Focus on words with a structure of 2 to 3 sounds like bin, dog, cat, go. Another tip: Use coloured counters.
- Alphabet – learning and reinforcing the alphabet in everyday life. The car is a great place where you can do a lot of these activities like street signs, shop signs, billboards, etc.
Listening and attention skills
Being able to focus, pay attention and listen is so crucial to skill development, particularly for children looking to start school. There’s got to be that important foundation because they are going to an environment so different to their home environment.
If you are concerned about your child’s attention or listening skills, you can do the activities that we already talked about or sharing books within a daily book routine will help build their concentration skills.
My comment on apps
There’s lots of great apps that help with learning to read and spell, but there’s a popular one called Reading Egg. https://readingeggs.com/apps/ You should check it out. But be very mindful of screen time, a topic that I discussed in the last episode.
It is good practice, a year before going to school, to have your child checked for the following:
- vision checked, particularly by a behavioural optometrist.
- ears and hearing checked
- fine and gross motor skills
So sit back and enjoy this episode of the Chatabout Children Podcast with Sonia Bestulic as she shares the foundations for reading and spelling.
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