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Friday, 1 June 2012

Friday thoughts - Reading and Writing

I love teaching little ones. Not only are they eager to learn and you can sing fun songs, make crafty items and read picture books, but you see so much growth, educationally, in such a short space of time.

People who deal with older children often say to me "I wouldn't know where to start teaching young children to read and write". Well...(as the 'Sound of Music' song says) start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start.

Words, sentences, texts are all made up of building blocks - sounds/letters. Once you know these building blocks, it is easier then to decode words/texts or create your own. However, focus not only on  the 'name' the letter makes (eg. 'a' as in apricot), but also the sound the letter makes (eg. 'a' as in apple). Special emphasis should be placed on the 'sounds' as that is what we use to 'sound out'/decode or write out unfamiliar words. Think about what you do if you need to write down a word that you find difficult to spell.

Expose children to the different ways the same sound makes. For example, 'a' (as in apricot) can also be written down as 'ai', 'ay' or 'a-e' (as in 'made'). This provides the children with more reading cues when they are beginning to read. I have all of these sounds on 'flashcards' and everyday I get the children to say the sounds back to me when I hold up the cards. They are at the stage that they immediately know what sound/letter combinations make and are now applying that knowledge to their own reading.

Providing fun activities to do with the sounds also helps them to learn the sounds (eg. making 'c' cupcakes with currants on top). Spot a focus sound in books or newspapers (eg. cut out all the words with 'ee' and 'ea' in them. Have a number of words that have a common sound and sort them into groups (or 'post' them into boxes/containers), for example: bee, meat, deal, feed and sort them into 'ee' groups and 'ea' groups. Practice and repetition help children to remember the sounds.

I hope that you find some quiet time to sit down and read for a little bit over this weekend!

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