Raising Readers: Tips for Parents

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Raising Readers: Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify, pronounce or change sounds, called phonemes, in spoken words. Phonemic awareness is an important basic skill that prepares children to become readers. It is usually taught during kindergarten and early first grade. This skill is composed of six basic components.

  1. Rhyming: Identifying words that rhyme or producing words that rhyme, for instance, “hat” and “pat” or “car” and “far.”
  2. Isolation: Identifying a specific sound in a word, for example, “What is the first sound in the word ball?” (Please note: The slash between the parenthesis denotes the sound.)Keeping up with the ending and middle sounds can be difficult, so children must identify them. For instance, “what is the ending sound in the word ‘tap’?”, “What is the middle sound in ‘cup’?” or “what are the sounds you hear in the word ‘lip’?”.
  3. Segmentation: Pull apart the sounds in a word in order. For example: “what sounds do you hear in the word ‘lip’?” Answer: /l/ /i/ /p/.
  4. Deletion: Taking a sound off a spoken word, such as, “Say it without the /s/.” Answer: “it.”
  5. Substitution: Changing a sound in a word to another sound. “My word is ‘pin.’ Change the /p/ to /w/. What is the new word?” Answer: “win.”
  6. Blending: Putting together sounds to make a word. For example: “Here are the sounds in a word /m/ /a/ /t/. What is the word?” Answer: “mat.”
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Raising Readers: Ten things Parents can do to Promote Phonemic Awareness at Home

  1. Read rhyme, rhythm, and repetition books to your children, such as Dr Seuss, poetry, or nursery rhymes. Discuss the book when you’ve finished it and talk about the rhyming words and ask your child to come up with more which rhyme
  2. Talk to your child and play with words. Children develop their understanding of language sounds and words by listening and speaking. It can then be used by your youngster’s knowledge to aid in learning reading and writing.
  3. Play rhyming games with your child, such as “I’m thinking of a toy that rhymes with ‘tall.'” Answer: “ball.” You may also ask, “How many words can you think of things rhyme with the word ‘at’?”
  4. As you speak to your child, draw their attention to sounds in words. For example, you could say while petting a dog, “What a nice dog. What is the beginning sound of ‘dog’?” Answer: /d/. Or, as you play with a stuffed cat, you could say, “What a good cat. What is the ending sound in ‘cat’?” Answer: /t/.
  5. While doing daily activities, segmenting or pulling apart the sounds in words is a difficult skill for many children, so it may take practice for your child to do it correctly. For example, you could say, “Here is your ‘hat.’ I hear these sounds in ‘hat’/h/ /a/ /t/. What sounds do you hear in ‘hat’?” Answer: /h/ /a/ /t/.
  6. As you play and talk with your child, try to include deletion activities such as, “I am tall. What is the word ‘tall’ without the beginning sound /t/?” Answer: “all.”
  7. As your child helps around the house with chores, try sound substitution activities such as, “Here is a book. Change the /b/ to /l/. What is the new word?” Answer: “look.”
  8. Give your child the sounds in a word, and ask them to blend them back to make the spoken word. For example, you might say, “Here are the sounds of a word: /b/ /i/ /g/. What is the word?” Answer: “big.”
  9. Enjoy silly language games with your child, such as saying as many words as possible, starting with the sound /l/ or /r/. Or, try to think of as many rhyming words as possible, including made-up words. For example, you might say, “How many words can we think of that rhyme with ‘take’?” You and your child may then come up with a list of real words such as “lake,” “make,” “rake”, and “bake,” and you may also think of made-up words such as “dake” and “gake.” This type of language play builds children’s interest in words and sounds.
  10. Read to, sing with and talk to your child as many times each day as possible to build an interest in sounds, words and language.

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