6 Literacy Skills Children Can Learn at Home
Teaching your child the basics of reading and literacy at home can give them an advantage once they start school.
Some of the most important literacy skills to teach your child at home include:
The Alphabet and PhonicsThe first skill a child needs to develop on their learning to read journey is phonemic awareness. This is the ability to identify the individual sounds that make up words, which are known as phonemes. For example, the word ‘mat’ has three phonemes: m/a/t. Once a child starts developing their phonemic awareness, they can begin learning the alphabetic principle, that is, that letters and combinations of letters represent particular sounds.
Sight WordsSight words – words like ‘the’, ‘if’, ‘it’, ‘is’ etc. – make up more than 50% of primary level reading texts, so it’s important that children learn these words early on. There are over 200 sight words, many of which have irregular spelling and have meanings that are difficult to visualise, therefore children need to learn to automatically recognise these words “at sight”. Due to their pervasiveness in early reading texts, failing to automatically recognise sight words is one of the most significant reasons why beginner readers encounter reading difficulties.
Spoken VocabularyIntroducing new words into regular conversations with your child is a great way for them to build their vocabulary. The more words that your child adds to their spoken vocabulary, the easier it will be for them to recognise and decode the meaning of these words when encountered in books.
Familiarity with BooksIntroducing your child to the nature of books will give them the basic book handling skills needed for school. Next time you read a story with them, point out the spine, the cover, the name of the author, the title of the book, the pages and anything else that will familiarise them with the basic nature of books.
Nursery RhymesNursery rhymes are great for developing a child’s phonemic awareness, phonics skills and vocabulary. The regular rhyme and repetition of nursery rhymes help children learn new pronunciations, letters and words, and their regular rhythm and melody help commit these to memory more easily.
Regular ReadingSet aside time every day to read with your child. Choose a place where you won’t be disturbed and your child can focus on reading. You don’t have to always read at home – try going to the park, the library, or the beach – anywhere that will make reading time more enjoyable.
5 Elements of Learning to ReadThere are five fundamental areas of literacy that all beginner readers need to master to become successful readers:
1. Phonemic AwarenessEvery word is made up of a series of smaller individual sounds, called phonemes. For example, the word ‘cat’ is made up of three phonemes /c/a/t/. Children who have developed phonemic awareness are able to hear, identify and manipulate these individual phonemes.
2. PhonicsPhonics teaches children how the 26 letters of the alphabet link to particular sounds (phonemes). Otherwise known as the alphabetic principle, children need to be able to recognise letters in their graphic form and instantly recall what sound it makes.
3. VocabularyReading a wide variety of books regularly is one of the best ways to develop a child’s vocabulary. The more diverse your child’s reading, the more words they will be exposed to. As your child’s vocabulary increases in size, so will their fluency, as they will be able to more easily decode sentences for meaning, hence allowing them to focus more on reading for meaning.
4. FluencyFluency is a skill that develops with regular reading and after a child makes progress with the three above skills. Reading to a child is one of the best ways to improve their fluency as it provides them with a vocal model of what a fluent reader sounds like. A vocal model can help children learn how to pronounce words correctly and when to observe punctuation and inflect changes in tone.
5. ComprehensionComprehension and reading for meaning is the end goal of learning to read. One of the best ways to develop a young reader’s comprehension skills is to ask them questions before, during and after a reading session. Before reading you can ask: ‘What do you think the book is about?’ During reading you can ask ‘Who is the main character?’
The Reading Eggs online programme instructs children in all five of these fundamental literacy areas. Each skill is taught with a progressive sequence of interactive lessons brought to life with colourful visuals and animations, catchy music, fun sound effects and lots of exciting rewards. Register your child for a 5 week FREE trial as part of the Reading Eggs Great Literacy Challenge at www.readingeggs.co.uk/baby.