So now we’re onto stage 2 of helping your child in reading. This one will target ages 4-6. You’ve done all that great ear training with phonological awareness, so now we need to actually read the words on the page. Reading the words on the page is referred to as decoding. Decoding has lots of important pieces, and we’re going to talk about each one of them separately.
- Short vowels- First, and I hope you all know this, the vowels are the letters a, e, i, o, and u (sometimes y, but it’s always a long vowel when it acts a one of the vowel team). The other letters are called consonants. Short vowels are when the vowel makes its SOUND, like /a/ in cat, the /e/ in net, the /i/ in pig, the /o/ in hop, or the /u/ in hug. They are the most common to start with, but they need LOTS of repetition, because kids like to mix up /a/ with /e/ and /o/ with /u/. Just practice sounding out words and play with those vowels a ton! We say the vowels are the glue that holds words together, or they are the hardest workers because they are in every single word.
- Long vowels- Long vowels are when a vowel says its name. Long vowels are commonly found when there is a silent e at the end of a word, when you have 2 vowels together, or when it’s an open-ended syllable with only one vowel (like in the word go). Here are some awesome videos for remembering the long vowels!
Silent E is a Ninja
2 Vowels Go WalkingWhen kids first start long vowels, they will read EVERY WORD with a long vowel, even if they are masters at short vowels. It’s ok! They just get mixed up and need a reminder. “Do you see a silent e or 2 vowels? Uh, oh! Must be a short vowel!” Once they get the long vowels into their heads and get more practice, they’ll be able to jump back and forth between the two easily. Just give it time!
- Consonant blends and digraphs- These just help your little one to read faster. Blends are 2 letters you commonly see together. If you teach your child that fl says /fl/, then instead of having to sound out /f/ /l/, they can just remember the one sound, /fl/. Likewise, they must know the digraphs- /sh/, /ch/, /th/, /ph/, and /wh/.
Here is a FREE blends and digraphs chart from Teacher’s Pay Teachers!
- Chunking and word patterns- This will again help your child become a faster reader. Once he or she is reading well, it’s much easier to remember that “and” says /and/, so if you know /and/, you know hand, sand, land, bland, etc. Likewise, if you know /ink/, you know blink, drink, sink, kink, link, rink, etc. So once the chunks are engrained in your little one, think how much easier reading will be. Instead of seeing a big long work, like “thinking” and says, “Oh, that’s too hard!”, they see /th/ /ink/ /ing/. Just 3 parts! Teachers will commonly teach chunks as word families. So the next time your little one is supposed to practice word families at home, take it seriously- it’s a huge foundational step!
Here are some free word family activities:
Word Family Sliders
Mini Picture Books
-at Word Family Fun
-it Word Family
- R-controlled vowels- As your child gets more efficient at reading, the knowledge of r-controlled valuables will become imperative. The letter R changes the sounds of each vowel when paired together– /a/ changes to /ar/ (the name of the letter r), /e/ /i/ and /u/ change to the sound of the letter r, and /o/ changes to a new sound /or/.
Bossy R Video
- Vowel dipthongs- A diphthong is a speech sound that begins with one vowel sound and changes to another vowel sound in the same syllable.
Here are some reading strategies to work on with your budding reader:
- Lips the Fish- Get your mouth ready to say the sounds
- Eagle Eye- Use the pictures & beginning sound to figure out a word (Pictures aren’t cheating! They’re great for helping beginning readers.)
- Stretchy Snake- Stretch out the sounds to read the word (sound it out).
- Chunky Monkey- My favorite! Use the chunks to read and remember words.
- Tryin’ Lion- Try it again if it doesn’t make sense.
- Skippy Frog- Skip over it and come back to figure out a word that makes sense.
- Flippy Dolphin- Flip the vowel sound to the long/short sound.
Mrs. Jump has some GREAT work for these reading strategies in this packet on Teacher’s Pay Teachers. Awesome for homeschooling mamas!
Next up we tackle those all important sight words!
Check out all the whole “Read, read, read” series, linked below:
The Ability to Read the Text
Read, Read, Read- Part 2: Decoding Skills
The Ability to Understand the Text
Read, Read, Read- Part 5: Fluency
Other Ways to Boost Reading
Read, Read, Read- Part 6: Read Novels
Read, Read, Read- Part 7: Write
Read, Read, Read- Part 8: Use Technology