Raising a Reader--Phonological Awareness
Are you trying to raise a reader? One of the key skills young children develop on their way to reading success is phonological awareness, or the ability to discriminate between different sounds. When children hear and manipulate the tiny sounds (phonemes) that make up words, they become stronger readers. These skills allow us to break words up into littler “chunks,” as well as make it possible for us to create rhymes.
There are several ways that you can practice phonological awareness skills with your toddler or preschooler. One of the simplest is to make up rhyming games, simply by replacing the initial word “chunk” of a given word with another sound. Start with a word like “bird,” and make up nonsense works like “dird,” “fird,” “mird,” or “pird.” These nonsense words help a child’s brain strengthen the wiring they need to discriminate between different sounds, and also stimulate the parts of a developing mind that crave creative play. You can also come to Baby and Toddler Storytime to practice these skills.
Another way to encourage phonological and phonemic awareness is through rhymes and songs. Pick your favorite Mother Goose or other folk rhyme, and get to work. Anything from “This Old Man (Nick-nack Paddy-whack)” to “Three Blind Mice” are going to serve up rhyming words, some nonsense rhyme, and lots of sounds to play with.
Counting syllables and breaking larger words into chunks is also part of this skill set. Have your older child tap out the syllables of a longer word (or place name). This is a great game to play when you’re on the bus: Say the names of the streets you are passing and tap out the syllables on the handrail or on your child’s arm or leg. When you integrate word play into your everyday life, you are empowering your child and practicing the skills she or he will need to be successful in school. Remember, it’s never too early to raise a reader.