In order for our children to learn to read they first have to use their ears!

This may sound crazy but go with me and by the end you’ll understand what I mean.

  • Early reading skills start with listening.
  • Children need to hear sounds and how they go together to enable them to sound out letters and blend (put them together) to read the word.
  • Before your child picks up a book you can and should practise loads of listening activities to improve their skills.
  • Go outside and listen to the sounds; see what they can hear.
  • Take a listening walk – walk anywhere and see what sounds you can identify on your way. You could even record them to make it more fun!
  • Listen to sounds in the house. Your child will be surprised by how many different things they can hear.
  • When you are reading to your child you can sound out some of the words in the story so they can hear the separate sounds which make up the word. (b-u-g/l-oo-k)
  • You can ask them things like ‘go and get your c-oa-t’ or ‘can you put the c-u-p on the table.’ By separating the sounds in this way you are helping your child to hear that a word is made up of sounds. If they can start to hear and distinguish the separate sounds it will make it easier for them to blend them together when it comes to reading.
  • Once they get used to it you can make it into a game and get them to ask you things by separating out the sounds. it could be as simple as they say the sounds m-u-m and you have to guess what word they are sounding out. This will get them used to spelling because they have to take the word and break it up into its separate sounds.
  • By encouraging them to hear the sounds you say and blend them together, you are helping them to read.
  • For example if you say the sounds ‘c-a-t’ to your child and they can tell you the word you’re sounding out is ‘cat’ then once they see the letters C-A-T in a book and sound them out they will be able to blend the sounds straight away and therefore read the word ‘cat.’
  • By giving them a word and getting them to tell you the separate sounds they can hear you are helping them to spell. 
  • If they can ask you to go and get the ‘c-u-p’, they have shown they know which sounds make up the word ‘cup’ and once they learn which letter represents the C-U-P they will be able to spell and write the word ‘cup’.
  • So orally blending (putting together the sounds) and segmenting (separating out the sounds) really is the first and most important step in reading and spelling.
  • So even if you feel really silly, remember you are teaching your child so much and by the time they pick up a book they will be able to read lots of words!

Give it a try and let me know how you get on!


Photo by Iana Dmytrenko on Unsplash.