The Building Blocks of Reading and Writing

From several decades of research, it has been learned a lot about how children learn to read and write. This research tells us that to become skilled and confident readers over time, young children need lots of opportunities to:

Build spoken language

Remember the old saying "children should be seen and not heard"? Research tells us that for children to become readers, they should listen and talk a lot.

By the time children are one year old, they already know a lot about spoken language - talking and listening. They recognize some speech sounds. They know which sounds make the words that are important to them. They begin to imitate those sounds. Children learn all of this by listening to family remembers talk. Even "baby talk," which exaggerates the sounds and rhythms of words, makes a contribution to children's ability to understand language. Children who do no hear a lot of talk and who are not encouraged to talk themselves often have problems learning to read.

Learn about print and books

Even though books don't come with operating instructions, we use them in certain ways. We hold them right side up. We turn the pages one at a time. We read lines of words starting at the left and moving to the right. Knowing about print and books and how they are used is called print awareness.

Print awareness is an important part of knowing how to read and write. Children who know about print understand that the words they see in print and the words they speak and hear are related.

They will use and see print a lot, even when they're young - on signs and billboards, in alphabet books and storybooks, and on labels, in magazines, and newspapers. They see family members use print, and they learn that print is all around them and that it is used for different purposes.

Learn about the sounds of spoken language

Some words rhyme. Sentences are made up of separate words. Words have parts called syllables. The words bag, ball, and bug all begin with the same sound. When a child begins to notice and understand these things about spoken language, he or she is developing phonological awareness - the ability to hear and work with the sounds of spoken language.

When a child also begins to understand that spoken words are made up of separate, small sounds, he or she is developing >strong>phonemic awareness. These individual sounds in spoken language are called phonemes. For example, the word big had three phonemes, /b/, /i/, and /g/."

Children who have phonemic awareness can take spoken words apart sound by sound (the name of this is segmentation) and put together sounds to make words (the name for this is blending). Research shoes that how easily children learn to read can

Learning about the sounds of spoken language is called phonological awareness.

Learn about the letters of the alphabet

Singing the alphabet sound is more than just a fun activity. Children who go to kindergarten already knowing the shapes and names of the letters of the alphabet, and how to write them, have an easier time learning to read. Knowing the names and shapes of letters is sometimes called alphabetic knowledge.

Listen to books and read aloud

Reading aloud to children has been called the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading. Reading aloud, with children participating actively, helps children learn new words, learn more about the world, learn about written language, and see the connection between that are spoken and words that are written.

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