Have you ever wondered how to take all of that hard work your child has done learning the alphabet and get your child using it to read? I mean, what good is learning letters and sounds if they aren’t putting them to use? They know their letters and they know their sounds so why can’t they just read already?
It takes more than just memorizing letter names and sounds to be able to apply those skills and actually decode a word. Connecting the alphabet to reading is a critical step in ensuring that you are providing your child with the skills they need to become a successful reader.
Breathe deep and know that your child can do it. You just have to show them how. After reading this post you will get my strategies to help your child connect the alphabet to reading, allowing them to learn how to read faster.
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Learning to Read: More Than Just Letters and Sounds
If your child has gotten their letters and sounds mastered, you might be wondering what’s next. A lot of parents think that it just is all about those letters and sounds and then the hard work is over: their child will just magically know how to read.
But, it’s not that simple.
Let’s take a look at some important things you can do to help your child make that connection between the alphabet and reading.
Phoneme Segmentation and Blending
One of the key factors to learning to read is having a strong Phonological Awareness.
This critical early literacy skill lays a strong foundation for your child’s ability to break down words into individual sounds. Then, work to blend those sounds back together, eventually making meaning of the word.
One way to do this is to practice phoneme segmentation and blending.
FYI: a phoneme is a fancy word for an individual sound.
This skill is when your child hears a word and can break that word up into individual sounds. For example, if you say the word cat, they would be able to distinguish each individual phoneme: /c//a//t/.
You can practice saying words and supporting your child in segmenting them into individual sounds.
You can also have your child practice listening for the beginning, medial, and ending sounds within a word. Being able to determine where they are hearing a particular sound will help them to start understanding that they can read new words using words they already know.
Phoneme blending is when your child hears individual sounds within a word very slowly or drawn out and needs to blend them together quickly to say a word.
This phonological awareness skill directly relates to the final part of the decoding process. Supporting this skill is a critical way to connect the alphabet to reading.
You can practice this by saying words very slowly and then having your child guess what word you are saying. The more practice they have trying to hear and make meaning of sounds, the more easily this skill will come to them when they are trying it independently while reading.
Word families are a great way to get your child reading more words with automaticity.
An example of a word family is words that end in the same rime such as -ap or -in. There are many small CVC words that all end with these letters. For example, with -at, you have mat, cat, hat, rat, sat, and bat to name a few.
Having your child practice identifying and reading multiple words within the same word family are a perfect way to practice beginning reading skills.
Hint, hint: this is why learning to rhyme is such an important pre-reading skill!
Start Reading Emergent Readers
During your daily read aloud time, start introducing some emergent readers. These are the perfect set to start with.
Emergent readers are usually 4-5 pages long with one short sentence per page. They have a mix of simple decodable words (words that your child can easily sound out as a beginning reader) and basic sight words.
Don’t force your child to read these books independently. Read them for them and model fluent reading just like you would in a regular read aloud book. You can start to use your finger to point to each word as you’re reading it as well.
The key here is to read slowly and try to encourage your child to read any words they know with you.
This will help them build their confidence as a reader and will get them used to practicing those important emergent reader skills.
Making that Connection Stick
So there you have it! My strategies to help support your child take that knowledge of letters and sounds and apply them to reading words.
These simple activities are a powerful way to create that connection and understanding that letters can be arranged in multiple ways to create meaning.
If you’re looking for that extra boost to prep your child for reading, I invite you to join my free resource library above. Inside you’ll see the first sight words your child needs to learn to start reading those emergent readers. You’ll also get some other fabulous and exclusive raise a reader resources to support you in your journey to creating a lifelong reader.