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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Houlihan

Teach your child to read!!

Many parents in Melbourne are stuck back in lockdown and that means back to homeschool!!

Im really passionate about teaching early literacy as I do a lot of this in my work so I couldn’t help but try to share some ideas! I am trained in THRASS, Sounds Write and Cracking the ABC Code.

Firstly, kids who have weak phonological awareness are likely to struggle more. So, the first thing to do is to see if your child can count syllables (eg. clap the sounds in caterpillar = cat-er-pill-ar), identify rhyming words (eg. man and fan rhyme, man and cat do not rhyme), make rhyming words (eg. what's a word that rhymes with cow?), identify sounds in words (eg. the word man starts with 'm' and the word fat ends in 't') and manipulate sounds in words (eg. if I took the c from clap, Id have lap). Now most kinder and prep kids can do a lot of these skills without being explicitly taught. Some kids need some practise and help to learn these skills. If your child is struggling with phonological awareness, it would be worth contacting a Speech Pathologist for support. In the meantime, you could help them learn some of these skills with activities such as the ones here -

Many of the kids that come to see me who are in Grade 1,2, 3 or even 4 with literacy difficulties often still have very weak phonological awareness skills, so I always start there. These then lead straight into the essential skills of segmenting and blending sounds to form words. When the children can learn to segment and blend sounds in CV or VC words and then CVC words and eventually CCCVCC words, and manipulate sounds in words, they are then ready to cope with the cognitive load of learning the different vowel spellings.

Im finding that many kids that I work with become negative or overwhelmed about reading because the books that are sent home from school often contain text that contains a broad range of spellings (such as ‘sparrow’, ‘rain’, ‘flew’, ‘Bertie’ and ‘white’). There is lots of evidence that supports the use of decodable readers where the students practise the essential early skills of segmenting and blending sounds to form words. At this level, the students are only asked read books containing words with letter sounds that they know - so short vowels and any consonants they’ve learnt to date. This way, the students experience success as they develop their skills.

I always recommend that parents simply read the school readers to their children (as these provide great opportunities for language development etc) and only use decodable books for actually practising reading skills with their child? I discourage strategies such as 'look at the picture and guess the word" and instead prompt the child to say each sound separately and then blend them back together to form each word. Some kids need you to gently show them how to do this.

There are some great resources currently available online that might be useful for very early readers such as :

This simple digital workbook that is currently on sale for $1!!

These associated decodable readers are on sale in digital format

Here is a link to a great basic video on the first 7 units of Sounds Write which would be a great resource for any keen parents -

Anyway, I just wanted to share these ideas with you and really hope you find them useful. Please let me know if we can help in any way.

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