Reading Skills: The Big 5...

Supporting Parents with helping their child learn to read.

Supporting your child with their reading is THE most important help you can give your primary-aged child, in my opinion. Without the ability to read your child will struggle in all areas of their learning. Reading features in most academic and vocational subjects. In school children need to be able to read things such as maths problems and historical sources. Later in life, they will need to read important documents such as instructions and contracts.

These 5 areas of reading have been proven through extensive research to be the most effective reading strategies to use when teaching students how to read. Helping students develop these reading skills will prepare them for proficient reading and success.

1. Phonemic Awareness: Listening to, identifying, and manipulating the sounds in words.

2. Phonics: Connecting the sounds in words to printed letters and then decoding words.

3. Fluency: Reading with the appropriate rate (speed) with accuracy, intonation, and expression.

4. Reading comprehension: Understanding and thinking about what has been read.

5. Vocabulary: Ability to understand and use a wide variety of words.

Reading activities and games

  • Guess my word

This is a great way to help build your child's phonemic awareness. Sound out a word for your child and see if they can tell you the word.

"My word has the sounds /c/  /a/   /t/. Can you guess my word?"

You want your child to be able to say the word cat from the sounds you have given. Once your child is confident you could swap roles so they sound out the word and you guess.

  • Rhyme battles

Say a word, such as 'hen', get your child to think of a rhyming word, for example 'pen'. Continue taking it in turns until you can not think of any more rhyming words. The last person to think of a rhyme wins!

  • Sticky Word Families

For this activity, you will need sticky notes.

Write a word ending onto a sticky note of one colour (e.g. pink). You could use an ending such as -op, -at, -en, -un etc

Use a different colour of sticky note and write consonants that will make words if added to the word ending you have chosen.

Get your child to choose a consonant and place it in front of the 'ending' and then read it. They can then change the consonant to make a new word. How many real words can they make? Can they make any nonsense words?

  • Walking words/Bouncing words

This is a super activity for your active little ones who like to be on the go! Say a word and together take a step for each sound you can hear in the word. In the end, jump high in the air and say the word.

This works just as well on a trampoline (or on your bed!). For each sound in the word get your child to do a baby bounce and then a big bounce as they put the sounds together and say the word.

  • Make a word

For this activity it would be useful to have letter tiles, wooden letters or magnetic letters, you can buy these online or make your own.

Write a word on a piece of paper and then read it with your child- sound out each of the phonemes. Then get your child to make the word with the letter tiles. Sound it out and read the word together again.

  • Boggle

Write 10 or so letters at the top of a page making sure there are a couple of vowels. Challenge your child to come up with as many words as they can make with the letters. To make it even more fun you could join in and challenge them to get more words than you!

  • Word sorts

These are good to get children looking at and comparing words. It helps them understand that many sounds in words can be spelled in different ways.

Choose a phoneme (sound) e.g the long /a/.

Write 8-10 words on separate notecards and ask your child to sort them. You can give them a category to sort the word into or let them choose their own- letter patterns, sounds, meanings etc

So for the long /a/ you could use the words: rain, play, say, chain, train, today, may, main etc

  •  Flashcards

These are great tools to use when helping your child with reading. You can buy letter, phonic and sight word flashcards or you can make your own. If you are making your own you can just use some index cards with the letters, phonic patterns, or words you wish to practice. Then hold them up and quiz your child.

Obviously, if your child's school using a particular phonics program you may wish to purchase their flashcards. You can follow the links below to the required program.