Parents are under constant pressure to get their children to read earlier on in their childhood. What we need to inspire at this early age is the joy of reading. There are some interesting play ideas to help build the foundations of reading, and most of all don’t panic if your child isn’t interested in sounding out letters if they are approaching school age. Enjoying stories and books being read to them is paramount! The rest will follow. Please trust me. A mum recently came to me. Her child is just in the juniors and she said “Can you believe he’s the best reader!” To which I replied “Yes, he started with us!”
There’s a great document with lots of ideas at the bottom of this article about the beginning stages of phonics. I’ll just pick out some highlights and a few other tips. Listening and discriminating sounds is the first step to phonics. Children hear sounds from being in the womb so their listening skills develop early. They are already beginning phonic development! Going on a walk in the park and listening for various sounds, birds, cars, planes leaves rustling etc will help discrimination.
We do lots of rhymes, clapping tapping etc to build rhythm and look at words that sound the same. Research shows time and time again that children who are regularly exposed to rhymes are more successful readers. One of the reasons I’m keen to have Musical Bumps, lots of listening, different sounds and rhymes to build the foundations of reading. There is the Silly Soup game which I love too.
The Silly Soup Song (to tune of Pop goes the Weasel)
I’m making lots of silly soup, I’m making soup that’s silly. I’m going to cook it in the fridge, To make it nice and chilly
Take it in turns to stir the soup while singing the song.
Add an ingredient, picture or toy food and make the silliest soup ever!
Lots of books…did I say that already! If your child can’t sit long, read short books. Don’t make it a chore! Pick books the children are interested in. My favourites are
Shark in the park (lots of rhyming)
The Tiger Who came for Tea
The Hungry Caterpillar
Dinosaur Roar (short)
Don’t put your finger in the Jelly Nelly
The Naughty Bus ( love the fonts and prints in this book)
There are so many children’s books!!
If your child is really showing an interest in wanting to read, when you teach letters teach the sound not the name. Why? I hear you ask! Take the word cat. The names of the letters are “see” “ay” “tee” the letter sounds are c-a-t. I hope this is clear, please ask me if you don’t understand. If we want a child to read they need to blend the letter sounds to build words. If your child isn’t quite at this stage but nearly ready, robot speak is great. We do this with the “one potato, two potato” song. But you can use it for anything. So it goes in a robot voice, “one po-ta-to two po-ta-to”etc. Children begin to get the concept of syllables and sounds.
Reading should be enjoyable. Learning to read should be fun. Building the basics is important before you go straight to letter sounds. You need to develop the skills step by step. Don’t rush it. Don’t panic if they haven’t got any sounds when they go to school. It’s so much more important to enjoy books and rhymes. Do this first and your child will enjoy their reading journey.
There are lots of ideas here. Have a look and see where your child is in the stages. Wherever they are, practice at the ones before are always good to fully secure the foundations to progress.