Building the Reading Foundation
Once children have demonstrated that they can isolate the beginning sounds of words, your young learner's next foundational step in learning to read is introducing the alphabetic principle (phonics). Mastery of this skill means your child is the able to understand that letters are used to represent the sounds of speech. In their book, Road to the Code, Benita Blachman Ph.D. and Eileen Ball Ph.D. tell us that successful educators need to help their students learn how the letters of the alphabet constitute speech. It's time for phonics.Be sure to use our checklist to find exactly where your child is at in reading, where any gaps may be and the right materials to use.
Phonics involves speech sounds and how they correspond to written letter or letter combinations. In their book, ABCs of CBM, Michelle and John L. Hosp and Kenneth W. Howell tell is that pupils who are able to distinguish letter sounds and read simple words in preschool and first grade are much more likely to perform better later on in higher grades.
English can be difficult to learn because there's not always a simple and direct correspondence between letters and sounds:
- English has 44 phonemes but only 26 letters in its alphabet;
- Letters can contain more than a single phoneme, such as the vowels all having a short and long sound;
- Some phonemes may be made up of more than just one letter. The /k/ sound, for example, may be represented by a single 'k', single 'c', a 'c' and 'k' together or even a 'c' and 'h' together as in the word 'echo';
- There are two letter combinations such as 'ch', 'sh', 'wh', 'th', where the two letters say one phoneme (sound).
Keeping this in mind, the best way how to start teaching your child the alphabetic principle is to introduce the most common sound for each letter. Even though the letter 'c' can say /c/ as in 'car', and /s/ as in 'city', it's best to teach the most common sound of the letter 'c', which is /c/. When your child has mastered these common letter sounds and is reading phonetic 3- and 4-letter words, your child can then begin learning the alternate sounds that letters make.
Teaching young children just one sound per letter is important at first because you avoid confusion and build solid beginning reading skills. Many studies have shown that difficulty linking letters with their sounds is the number one source of reading difficulties for many children. GR Lyon, in Journal of Learning Disabilities states that students who struggle with reading area hesitant with frequent starts and stops and many mispronunciations.You can free your child from struggle and frustration simply by following the recommendations we outlined here and using our products below, which are based on this phonics principle.
Guidelines for Teaching This Principle
Here are some important guidelines to consider when working with a beginning or struggling reader. These will help give them a firm grasp of the alphabetic principle:
Present Only Letter Sounds that are the Most Common
There are 10 characters that create numerous separate sounds. Additionally, certain letter sounds may be expressed by various letters or letters that are combined together. However, you should wait until your child has mastered the common letter sounds before introducing these more advanced concepts. First, help your student grow a solid working proficiency of the fundamentals before going onto higher level learning.
Only Teach with Lower-Case Letters to Begin With
95% of written text is comprised of lowercase characters and just 5% is made up of capital letters. At this stage in reading development, it's just sound judgment to present lowercase letters exclusively. Also, it helps avoid puzzling your child with various forms for the same character.
Give the Sound of the Letter Rather than the Name of the Letter
It's vital to work on what's most relevant. In this particular situation, regardless of the powerful cultural model of teaching the name of the letter, you'll be far more successful teaching the sound of the letter. Many teachers throughout the world, particularly in Montessori schools, have enormous successes training their early students the character by its sound as if it were the name of the letter.
Make Use of "Key" Images together with Characters
This means working with a consistent character paired with an object, for example, presenting the letter "a" coupled with an apple. Your child can utilize his previously acquired phonemic knowledge to detect the first sound of this word, the /a/ of 'apple', and then, by association, detect the alphabet character.
An example of the process of working with our products is: The child views the 'a' letter on the card matched with an image of 'apple'. Next, he detects the /a/ sound as the beginning character and says /a/.
To proper use and learn this next step, it's important for youngsters to be able to utilize their previously obtained phonemic awareness skills to work out this association independently with the help of a key picture couple with each letter. Later on, various matching activities can be introduced such as matching letters initially to the key picture then to other images that begin with the same sounds as key images.