Thursday, January 8, 2015


Developing Early Reading Skills in Preschoolers: Phonics

Developing early reading skills begins long before actually learning to read.  This week and next week, I will be sharing a mini-series about developing these early reading skills in preschoolers!  Today's post is all about early phonics!

I recently took a professional development class about early reading skills, and as I sat through the lessons I became more and more convinced that you can teach these early reading skills through simple, playful interactions with your young children.

If you haven't already read my post about how preschoolers' brains develop, I strongly suggest you read that first.  Everybody wants their young children to read as early as possible, but pushing them when they're not ready is actually damaging.  On the other hand, these "pre-reading" skills can be "taught" while you simply read to your children!

During this mini-series, I will address four early reading skills, what they are, why they are important, how you can "teach" them to young children, and (for those of you teaching preschool groups) how you can teach them to a group of kiddos.  We will end with a wrap-up post next week!  As I post, I will link the posts to each of these labels:

1- Print Awareness

2- Phonological Awareness

3- Phonics (this post!)

4- Strategies

5- Wrap Up!

So, let's get started!!


1.  What is Phonics:

The relationship between sounds and letters.

2.  Why is Phonics important:

** Research is showing that systematic, explicit phonics instruction beginning in kindergarten or first grade is better for children learning to read than no phonics instruction or non-systematic instruction.

** An understanding of phonics leads to the alphabetic principle (the systematic & predictable relationships between written letters & spoken sounds)

** Phonics instruction significantly improves children's word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehen

 ** Preschoolers are still young enough that they do not need the systematic, explicit lessons; but, they can benefit from early exposure to phonics.  Read on for instruction ideas!

3.  How to "teach" Phonics to your own child:

** When you play, frequently emphasize the first sound of a word, repeat it a few times, and then label the letter that makes it.  For example, as you play with trains, say to your child, "Will you hand me the red t- t- t- train?  Train starts with 'T!'"  Or, as you prepare lunch say, "Will you pass me the ssssssssssalt?  Salt starts with 's!'  Hmmm...what else starts with 's?'"

** When you look at books together, point out a word with a great picture nearby.  Put your finger under the first letter and make the sound it represents.  For example, if you're looking at a book about dinosaurs, put your finger under the 'T' in T-Rex and say, "T- T- T- T-Rex starts with T!"  You don't need to dwell on it or drill your preschooler.  Just let  him see and then move on with the story.  He may choose to mimic you, and that's fine.  If he wants to pursue more sounds, go for it!

4.  How to teach Phonics to a group of preschoolers:

** Use whatever theme you're working on, and emphasize common letters in that unit.  For example, if you have a winter theme with antarctic animals, whenever you talk about penguins, emphasize that "P- p- p- penguins start with 'p!'"

** Phonics coloring sheets can help build phonics connections too.  For example, a rabbit coloring page with letters to trace or color on that say something like "Rabbit starts with R!"

** Phonics dot pages are fun too!  For example, a dot page with dots to fill in on both a picture of a butterfly and a letter "b."

5.  Goals

During the kindergarten year in Texas, children are expected to identify common sounds that letters represent.  Some children are ready to do this before the kindergarten year ever begins.  Others are not! And that is okay!  Exposing all children to phonics during the preschool years can help prepare them for the sequential, explicit phonics instructions that will help them learn to read shortly!  The children who are ready early will remember the sounds and symbols.  Preschoolers who are not ready should be allowed to enjoy their play time and other skills while being exposed to the sounds and symbols that they will learn soon enough.

I hope you find this series encouraging and exciting, and that you join us for the rest of the posts!  Feel free to email or leave comments with feedback, your own experiences, or your own tips!!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Beth Gorden said...

Love this series you are doing - so helpful for parents!!

Thanks for linking up to TGIF. Have a GREAT weekend,

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks so much Beth! I love TGIF! Hope you enjoy your weekend too!