Helping young children to learn their sounds and simple words.
Learning The Alphabet
“Learning” involves “recognition”, “memory” and “recall”. Probably the most important part of knowing the letters of the alphabet is being able to recognise the shape of the letter matching the letter name that is being spoken. A very effective way of checking if your child can match letter shape with letter name is to have an alphabet chart displayed and point to individual letters and ask the child to tell you the name of the letter.
Do not expect your preschool or kindergarten child to get them all correct all of the time.
Some children can recite their alphabet, and can recognise the letters correctly when they see them either standing alone or as part of a word, but they do not know the sound of each letter.
Being able to correctly sound out each letter is just as important to learning to read as being able to name the letters correctly.
Once children know the sounds of the letters, they are ready to learn that if we put particular letters together they form words. The simplest words that they will have to learn are “A” or “a” or “I” as they are only one letter long.
It is important to explain to children that even though these are single letters, they can also be words.
When helping a child to learn words, it is important to focus initially on words that can be “sounded out”. Demonstrate this with words like “cat”, “dog”, “is” and “on”.
STRATEGY: Point to the letters in the word one at a time, making the sound of the letters as you go. Ask your child to point to the sounds in the words and say them aloud. This means that they are using four of their “senses” each time they do it. They use their vision (they “see” the letter), they use their speech (they “say” the sound) they use their hearing (they “listen” to the sound) and they touch the letters. This helps a child to understand that when certain letters appear together, they make words.
Sight Words (cannot be “sounded out”)
A number of “sight words” look similar to each other and this can create problems for children when they are first learning them. Some words have the same letters in them, but they are arranged differently. This can result in a number of “word reversals” that are quite commonly seen. Probably one of the most common word reversals occurs when a child sees “was” and says “saw” (or vice versa). Other common word reversals include: “of“/”from; “for“/”from” and “on/no“.
This is an extract from my book, “Can I Help My Child Learn? A Parent Guide Written in Plain English”