When Teaching Your Child To Read Make Sure They Have Phonemic Awareness
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When Teaching Your Child to Read Make Sure They Have Phonemic Awareness

I have yet to find a child who doesn't want to know how to read. Whether they want to spend time reading is a different issue.

I know many English speaking children find learning to read English difficult. I think we must look at how they are taught to read instead of blaming the language.

I still remember a teenager coming to me as I was on supervision duty at a school I was working at and I still feel upset over twenty years later thinking about it. He was half way through secondary school and had a limited future ahead of him because he couldn't read fluently..

The courage it took for him to approach me and say, “Will you help me Miss? I can’t read” was enormous.

It was this boy who was the catalyst for me to find out how to teach a child to read in the early years of school.

In the past here in Victoria, Australia, there was a three-year specialist course for teachers of young children in primary schools. I don’t think what replaced it in the belief we had progressed was good enough. I remember the lecturers who taught the student teachers had worked in schools doing the job and could speak from experience. Each school also had a teacher who had taught young children in charge of the first three years students.

Providing phonemic awareness lesson plans was part of her role. I remember all the songs and sounding out games young children played.

Teaching children in the first three years of primary school is the job for a specialist. Not every teacher can do it. The first three years of school are the most important years for literacy skill development.

My role in the secondary school was special needs teacher. I taught students who were struggling to read. I was responsible for scores of students who were sight readers. When they came to a word they did not recognize or could not work out they stopped reading. They forgot what they had previously read.

I devised a number of lessons on how to decode words. Many students showed improvement in their reading and were then encouraged to read as many books as possible. A number of students didn't improve.

Obviously there was a lot more involved.

Today we have a better idea of what can cause reading failure.

Most children learn to read. However, there are a small, but significant number of children who are known as at risk literacy learners. My secondary student was one of them. He did not receive the support he needed early enough.

Ninety percent of students who struggled to read at the end of grade one and who had not received any support never catch up.

I was right when I realised my students needed systematic instruction in word recognition followed by practise and plenty of comprehension activities.

I was aware of the word dyslexia, but I was not sure what that meant. I was also unaware of phonological awareness.

Many students were unable to recognise individual sounds that make up words. The visual and auditory parts of the brain in relation to speaking and listening and reading were not co-ordinated.

Before a young child starts learning to read they should have their eyes and hearing checked. I have encountered a number of children with sight or hearing issues who were falling behind at school.

The most important pre-reading skill a young child must have is phonemic or sound awareness.

This includes:

  • The ability to hear rhymes and alliteration
  • The ability to hear different beginning sounds in words
  • The ability to blend words and split the syllables in words
  • The ability to separate all the sounds in words and blend them together again
  • The ability to replace beginning sounds with a new sound and make a new word is called phonemic manipulation.

Most children learn to read despite the method used to teach them. Many pick it up for themselves.

But it is estimated one child in five struggles.

Reading research has informed educators how to teach reading. We must implement the findings.

Online programs are now available which engage children and provide a teacher or parents with ideal instructional material to ensure every child learns to read.

Street Talk

Those who get lost at first grade level mostly don't catch up... that makes this critical. Thanks for sharing.

  about 7 years ago
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