Now when your little one has mastered the ABC, you might wonder: what to teach after the alphabet? How to acquire the reading skill? Here are 10 steps on the path to perfect reading ability.
How Do I Know My Kid Is Ready?
There are a few aspects you should pay attention to. Your child is ready to learn reading when:
- Speech is fully formed. A child speaks by full sentences and can make up a short narration.
- No logopedic or articulatory abnormalities are observed. Rhythm and melody of speech aren’t disturbed.
- A kid orients in the space well and can distinguish left and right easily.
- A child has well-developed phonemic awareness, discerns sounds in the beginning, middle and end of words.
That’s about your kid? Here’s what you should teach after the alphabet.
1. Uppercase & Lowercase Letters
Does your little one know what the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters is? Explain when they are used and how they look. Thumb through books and show that capital letters stand at the beginning of every sentence and proper nouns (names). Practice recognition of uppercase and lowercase by playing a game or using magnetic letters.
This is a crucial skill for reading because it makes children understand and recognize phonemes: they start hearing separate sounds within words. Besides, it’s just fun! Your little one will love trying to name as many rhyming words as possible. Read and learn poems, play rhyming, create your own poems – that will help your kid her sounds in words.
Phonemes are what pronounced words consist of, for instance, when you listen to the word ‘cat’, you can hear sounds /k/-/a/-/t/. The term ‘phoneme’ may be too complicated, so you can call it ‘sounds’ for the kid to understand.
Hearing and distinguishing sounds can be a hard skill, especially when you have more letters than phonemes (example: cookie sounds like /k/-/u/-/k/-/i/). You don’t have to teach toddlers what they will learn in school: transcription and all these [α] and [ð] phonemes won’t make sense for a 5-year-old kid. Instead, practice pronouncing the word and distinguishing what it is made of. =
Now when the kid distinguishes sounds, you can start dividing them into consonants (/t/, /k/, /m/, etc) and vowels (/o/, /u/, /a/). Then divide vowels into short and long ones and practice pronouncing them. As soon as the kid starts understanding the difference, you can ask them to sort out the short vowel and long vowel sounds. Be patient – this is one of the most challenging exercises for children.
As soon as kid masters main vowels proceed to consonants. Start with the ones your kid knows, explain that one letter can make several consonant sounds (soft and hard), for instance, hard ‘p’ in ‘parrot’, and soft ‘p’ in ‘pew’.
Syllables are the bricks that make up words and divide them into sections: counting them is another important skill to develop. That’s one of the main things to teach after the alphabet. Play games to count syllables and distinguish them. As soon as you master sounds, this exercise should become easier.
7. Make Syllables and Words
Practice making words with a few letters – this is where kid’s skill to distinguish syllables will be useful. Start with words of 2 or 3 letters that your kid knows well, and show how they can be rearranged to form words. For instance, if you use letters ‘C’, ‘A’ and ‘T’, you can make words ‘cat’, ‘act’, and ‘tac’ (those can be non-existing words, as well). Or you can leave ‘-at’ and add other sounds to make words ‘rat’, ‘bat’, and more.
Another engaging way to create words is to ask the kid to make his name. Give your child cards or cubes with letters and ask to arrange them so that the letters formed their name.
8. Level Up: Word Families
If you’ve already tried forming /-at/ words, your kid shouldn’t have any problems with memorizing words from other word families, too. Buy a poster with different word families – it facilitates the process of learning. Note that the process of teaching word families can take months – so relax and give it time. This exercise will help you to build a strong foundation for spelling and reading in the future.
9. Make Short Words
Now when your kid is done with all above-mentioned exercises, you can introduce small words, for instance, sight words like ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘at’, and so on. There are over 100 sight words that comprise 50% of what we read – learn the basics to ease the task for your kid. Discuss the sound of each letter and put them together to pronounce words.
More on the Topic: 8 Golden Rules of Reading Books for Kids
10. Show How to Read and Write
Although we take it for granted, it’s important to explain kids the concept of reading and print. A child should know how to hold a book, and that the text is read from left to right. Use your finger to index the direction of text, show how to hold a book in the correct way. All in all, the best way to prepare your kid to become a reader is reading together as often as you can.
Mastering ABCs is only half of the task: as you can see, there’s a lot to do afterward. Now you know what to teach after the alphabet for kids to start reading. Don’t hurry your children – let them enjoy every lesson and try to turn the process into a game.