Vickie Leung, Speech Pathologist and former director of the Multi-Lit Literacy Centre at Macquarie University, explains how and when to help your child start learning to read.
As a speech pathologist and literacy specialist, many parents ask me questions about when they should start to teach their child to read.
Children enjoy being read to and to really give your child the very best opportunity to learn to read well, I encourage you to read daily to your child from birth.
But when it comes to being able to read for themselves, most children develop pre-reading skills between the ages of 4 and 5.
This is when they have mastered spoken language and are starting to notice written words in the world around them.
But before your child learns to read and write, they must first pick up foundation skills for literacy, and these include speaking, listening and understanding.
Your child will also need to develop their phonological awareness skills, which means learning about the sounds, words and language they see and hear in books, stories and the world around them.
As a parent or teacher, you play an important role in building these pre-reading phonological awareness skills.
When you are helping your child get ready to learn to read, pay attention to:
It is important that your child is able to identify, remember and hear the first sound in words as this will help reading development later on.
When your child is just starting to recognise and learn new words, give them lots of clues to help them remember (eg. That word begins with the sound ‘h’, you go there if you are very sick, what do you think it could be? H for Hospital).
Identifying syllables becomes an important skill when your child starts learning to spell, as it helps ‘chunk’ the parts of the words into smaller pieces which are easier to spell than an entire word (eg. Hippopotamus can be broken down into its syllables hip-po-po-ta-mus).
Rhyming words have the same or similar sounds at the end. Rhyme is vital for learning because the sing-song quality of rhyme helps your child to remember, recite new words and spot patterns in the sounds.
If your child can understand rhyming as a pre-schooler, this skill will be particularly helpful later on when they need to apply similar rules to words when spelling.
This is a fundamental skill for learning new words and helps to develop your child’s auditory skills and working memory.
If, no matter how many different strategies you try, your child still struggles to grasp the concepts of listening for and manipulating sounds in words, consider making an appointment to discuss any issues with your child’s preschool/school teacher, paediatrician or a Speech Pathologist.
© 2015 Kids First Children’s Services
Kids First’s speech pathologists have years of experience and have helped hundreds of children to learn to read well.
Our Ready Set Read groups for 4-5 year olds give children valuable pre-literacy skills. Find out more here …
Our individual therapy and reading support programs have successfully taught struggling readers the skills they need to read well. Find out more here…
For more information about how a speech pathologist can help your child learn to read, contact us at Kids First in Sydney’s northern beaches on (02) 9938 5419