14/ 06/ 2019
These are two of the most important questions you can ask a child as they embark on their literacy journey: What do you hear? What do you see?
When you ask a child to identify what they hear when a word is said, you are tapping into their phonemic awareness; the ability to hear different sounds as they work together in words. Phonemic awareness is an activity that can be done in the dark, because it is about audible sounds in words, not yet associated with symbols or print.
When spending time in the car on the way to kindy, Prep or school, it is fun to say a word and get the children to tell you the different sounds that they hear.
For example: truck = t r u ck = 4 sounds
Once children are able to identify and isolate the letter sounds, you can then begin to associate the written symbols with each sound. The Alphabet is a great place to start, preparing their foundation for reading the written word by knowing first the common sounds a letter makes, and then the name of each letter as they see it written. Be careful, though, that you use words like ‘sometimes / often a letter makes this sound’ when introducing letters and their sounds. The truth is the letter ‘c’ doesn’t always say ‘kuh’ and ‘g’ doesn’t always say ‘guh’. The letters in our alphabet often work in association with other letters to make many different sounds. Even regular letters like ‘b’ can be present in a word and actually not say anything at all. For example: climb = the ‘b’ is silent. So, right from the start, we let children know that there are common sounds that the letters make, but they often can be heard making other sounds, also.
When picking out words from the world around you, start your beginning readers off by looking at words that are simple with their sounds. For example: dog = d o g … where every letter is true to their alphabet sound. From there, you can blend common sounds like crab = c r a b. Have fun exploring words and don’t shy away from interesting letter combinations that the child asks about. Explore the sounds you hear and the letters that represent each sound and make note of any interesting ones you didn’t expect.
English is a complex language, but it is such fun to explore and discover all the interesting ways words work within it.