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The Reading Journey part 1 (pre readers)

Help transform your child's reading at home

We all like to see where we are going and for longer journeys to have an idea about what we might face along the way. It’s good to plan our journey!

Drivers going on a long journey should not be satisfied with simply setting the Satnav but will be better prepared by finding places to eat, recognizing potential hazards or where traffic congestion may take place and perhaps discovering interesting places to see on the way.

Having a good idea about the journey of learning to read is a great starting point when supporting your child’s reading at home.

Let's have a look at what this probably means in practise:

So, in the words of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, ‘Let’s start at the very beginning …’

Toddlers from as young as two can develop 5 skills for getting ready to read. There’s no set order, these skills are often interlinked and can be learnt at the same or different times. Helping them develop these skills will set them on a good reading adventure. Let’s jump right in:

1. Before they read, a child can gain print awareness.

A child who has print awareness understands that print represents words that have meaning and are linked to spoken language.

A child’s print awareness develops when family & friends show letters and words in text found in lots of different places. Can you think of any?

Print awareness also develops through playing word games and when you read to the child.

Please tell us about any word games you know to help the early years child with reading!

A child with print awareness understands that there are different reasons for print — for example, menus list food choices, a book tells a story, and a sign can warn of danger.

2. Another crucial pre-reading ability of course, is learning the names, sounds and shapes of the letters of the alphabet and then differentiating lower case and capital letters.

3. Phonological awareness.

Here we have a ‘big word alert’. Before learning to read a child can develop phonological awareness. The best way to think about this is to close your eyes. As you listen to words and sentences you become aware that words have different sounds.

Those sounds are made in different ways in different parts of the mouth.

For example, a ‘f’ sound (fun, face, free) is made by putting your top teeth on your lower lip and gently blowing. This is called an aspirated sound, made with an expulsion of air.

Some sounds are repeated. (The damp drizzle dripped delicately)

Some sounds rhyme.

Sentences are made up of different amounts of words.

Some words are short, others long and are made up of different beats.

Put simply, your brain has to make the connections between the letters, words, and sentences that you see and the sounds that you hear.

4. A fourth skill that helps to build a foundation for learning to read is listening comprehension. This is the ability to understand the meaning of words they hear and relate to them. It enables them to take in information and begin to process it, to follow instructions and engage in conversation.

Later, children will begin to read words they have already heard and understood, leading to reading comprehension.

5. Last but by no means least when it comes to building a foundation for learning to read, is motivation to read. Any 2 – 5-year-old who wants to learn to read is well on the way to doing so. Of course, this is about attitude rather than a particular skill. But is just as important.

There are lots of ways to encourage your young child to read. Our last blog, From indifferent to enthralled outlines many strategies that can be applied to your toddler. In addition, the blog All about Learning Press has a superb article that gives good insight into listening comprehension for your child and how you can help.

Once again, here's a visual reminder of the 5 key elements to kick start your toddler to read:

Happy reading!


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