Obviously, kids need to know their alphabet before they’re ready to sound out words.
They recognize both upper and lower case letters. Obviously if you teach your child to sound out words with capital letters, he doesn’t need to know the lowercase alphabet. But since most books are written with both upper and lower case letters, it’s important that your child can recognize lowercase letters as well.
We learn the rest of the alphabet by reading alphabet books and by playing a variety of games. (See my Alphabet for Kids Pinterest board to find activities that your child will enjoy.)
We also like to explore the alphabet letter by letter in many hands on ways. (Find links to our letter of the week activities here.)
4. Phonological and phonemic awareness
While we’re learning the alphabet, we play games and do activities to lay a solid foundation ofphonological and phonemic awareness. Sounds like teacher talk, right? Just remember that these are different from phonics because they are about LISTENING, not LOOKING. The following statements are true of children with phonological and phonemic awareness.
They can count words.
They can count syllables in words.
They can rhyme.
They can put sounds together to make a word. If you say these sounds to your child, /f/ and /ish/, can he put them together to make fish? If you stretch a word and say it like this — mooooon – does your child know the word is moon?
They can identify the first and last sound in a word. This is not the same thing as knowing the letter. For example, if you ask your child the first sound in the word phone, she should be able to answer /f/.
How to promote phonological and phonemic awareness:
Give your child a cup with counters. Say a sentence in the normal way and then recite it very slowly. (“The sky is blue.”) Can your child give you a counter for each word of the sentence?
Teach your child to count syllables by starting with his own name. Then move on to other familiar words.
Play rhyming games. (I’ve got a great collection of these in this post.)
5. An Interest in Learning to Read
If you’re attempting to teach your child to sound out words and one or both of you are consistently frustrated, it will not end well. It may be that your child simply isn’t ready for this skill (see the above points), or it may be that it’s not on her list of priorities. If children are motivated to learn to read, you can expect the following to be true:
They enjoy being read to.
They frequently ask you to read aloud.
They pretend to read.
How to help children get excited about learning to read:
Let your child see the value of knowing how to read by reading in a variety of ways in her presence. This might mean reading a recipe, your favorite magazine, devotional material, or even your e-mail.
Let your child choose books he loves when you read to him — but don’t feel tied to books you’re bored with. Pull out some winners from my book lists so that you’ll both enjoy yourselves!