Five Skills Children Need to be Readers by 3rd Grade
What skills do children need to be fluent readers by third grade? The National Institute for Literacy says parents should focus on 5 key areas:
1. Spoken Words
Before your child ever sees a word on the page, he or she will hear thousands and thousands of words--spoken words. Every spoken word is a series of sounds.
Say the word "football." Now say it again, slowly. Take it apart. Stress each little sound, from the "f" sound at the beginning to the "l" sound at the end. "Football" has six sounds in it. A child who can tell these sounds apart is on the way to becoming a reader.
Children need to hear how sounds in words go together. "Hat," "bat," "fat," "cat," and "rat" are almost the same word--but most people don't wear cats on their heads on cold days. Only the beginning sounds in these words are different. But that one letter makes a huge difference. When you help a child hear and play with sounds in words, you're getting him ready to read, to see those differences between words when they're written down.
It's called phonemic awareness
Teachers call knowing how language sounds "phonemic awareness." You can start working on phonemic awareness when your child is a baby. Even saying silly words like "coochie coo" begins to make language sounds more familiar. Children should have a good sense of phonemic awareness by the time they start preschool.
How can a dad help?
Play games with words. If you see a boat, say to your child, "hey, look at that coat in the water!" She will know it's a boat, and probably tell you so! At dinner, ask your son to pass you his fish—he'll correct you right away that you meant his dish, not his fish.
Teachers call knowing how language sounds "phonemic awareness."
Play with sounds in all parts of words (beginning, middle, and end): like "job," "joy," and "jog," where the difference is at the end of the words. Rhyming is also important. Listen for rhyming words in songs, rap, and poems. Play a game: who can come up with three words that rhyme with "cool" the fastest?
Reprinted with the permission of the National Institute for Literacy.
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