Last episode we talked about the foundations for learning to read and spell.
In particular, we talked about practical strategies, speech and language milestones for 3-5 year old, what to do if you are concerned that your child is not reaching those milestones, and oral language skills, especially vocabulary.
You can go here to listen to Part 1
We also touched briefly on pre-literacy skills and we will dive deep into that topic today. Here’s what to expect in today’s show:
- Fun ways to introduce your child to more building blocks for reading and spelling
- Oral language, how it is linked to literacy
- 5 ways to build phonological awareness
- Comment on apps for building foundations
- Listen and attention skills
- Other considerations
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 gonna enrich their vocabulary.
So it’s really about having fun and incorporating things in your everyday, 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.
It is important to become proactive in supporting your child’s communication needs and in developing the foundation pre-literacy skills. (Listening to the episode makes you a proactive parent or carer of the child.)
How to handle grammatical errors with modelling or recasting
Child: “I go to the shops today!” (instead of went to the shops today)
Parent or Carer: “Oh you went to the shops today! You went to the shops with dad, didn’t you? You went to buy some apples and oranges?”
(So what you are doing there is you’re modelling back to them the way the word “went” is used and how it functions in a sentence and also the different ways the word can be used, recasting by saying it 3 or 4 times.)
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
Meanwhile, what are some of the sub-skills included in phonological awareness? This includes:
- Counting syllables, being aware of syllables in words
- Blending sounds in words
- Segmenting sounds
- Being able to know if words rhyme or not
- Being able to identify the first or last sound in a word
- Knowing that letters make different sounds
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 sound. Focus on words with a structure of 2 to 3 sounds like “bin”, “dog”, “cat”, “go”. Another tip: Use colored 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. You should check it out. But be very mindful of screen time, a topic that I discussed in the last episode.
Make sure everything is in check. A year before going to school, be sure to have your child checked for the following:
- vision checked, particularly by a behavioural optometrist.
- ears and hearing checked
- fine and gross motor skills
Now, If you are worried about the following, then you can have them checked by a specialist:
- attention listening skills by an occupational therapist
- Anxiety and behavioural aspects by a psychologist
- Any aspect of communication by a speech pathologist
Now that you have super practical ways of how to prepare your child to read and spell after listening to our 2-part series on the foundations of reading and spelling.
In the next episode, we will chat about the bilingual child.
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