Updated: Feb 15, 2019
Did you know some kids are not developmentally ready to learn to read, in the conventional sense, until around 7 years old? Yet many parents begin worrying that their child should be reading because another child his or her age is already reading or simply because their child is in preschool or kindergarten. Please do not worry! We shouldn't force our young kiddos into reading, but there are things you can do to ensure your child is primed to take off and begin reading when he or she is ready. In this post, we are going to explain how to reinforce one of the most important reading concepts with your child as early as infancy.
Letters represent sounds. It may seem simple, and in a way, it is quite simple. However, many parents did not grow up learning to read in the same way and some schools still focus on having student rely on context or picture clues to read words. Individually, each letter in our alphabet makes a predictable sound. Those sounds sometimes change when they are placed next to other letters in words. There are some exceptions, but you don't need to worry about those right now:)
So how do you reinforce this idea? There are many things you can do to reinforce the concept that letters represent sounds. Here are three easy-to-implement ideas:
1. Play with letters
Break out the alphabet puzzle or play with magnetic letters. Guide your child through games of placing the letters on the board or in the puzzle, making the sound the letter says.
2. Model sounding out words
While reading books or making simple words with letters, model how the letters make a word. For example, build the word cat. Hold the c, say /k/; hold the a, say /æ/; hold the t, say /t/. Blend the sounds together.
3. Play with sounds
This one is SO much fun and only requires you talking to or with your child. Depending on your child's verbal ability, you can model or have them talk with you. Don't be afraid to be silly! We like to make up whacky family rhymes, "play, play, play like a chicken filet" is one of our favorites. Another current favorite is the song "Apples & Bananas" which plays with the sounds the "a"s make. Lastly, we love going on walks and talking about what we see and try to find things that start with the same sound — a sound scavenger hunt: "Branch! Bus! Boy! Body!"
Try starting by infusing just one tip into your daily routine and see where it takes you. Most importantly, play with your kiddo and feel great knowing your purposeful play, if only for a few minutes a day, has incredible impact!
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Magnetic Letters (letters pictured above are no longer available, but we love the ones in the link!)