So it’s time to learn to sound out words for spelling. At first, it can be quite a daunting task for a little one.
Here is one trick I have found that helps with little children, or older kids who are having trouble sounding words out… It sounds complicated but give it a go. Just having something tangible for them to focus on can really help.
First things first, go back a step. Talk about how different sounds make up words and give your child examples. At book reading time, you might point at a word and say ‘that says ‘cat’ – it is made up of the sounds ‘c-a-t’, ‘ca…t”. At another time, you might sit with your child and go through each sound of the alphabet. Or maybe just a few common sounds at first.
‘Study’ each sound and feel it in your mouth. You might say to your child ‘let’s see which parts of our mouth make this sound’. Have you ever stopped to think yourself?
– /m/, /b/, /p/, /w/ are made with our lips
– /k/, /g/ are made with the back of our tongue
– /n/, /t/, /d/, /l/, /r/, /s/, /z/ are made with the front of our tongue
– /f/, /th/, /v/, /ch/, /j/ are made with our lips and tongue
(the vowel sounds have nothing really getting in the way, it’s just our jaw height and tongue tension)
So now when your child starts to attempt to work out the last sound in a word, you can say ‘say the word and catch that last sound in your mouth, which parts of your mouth were moving?’. Put the emphasis on ‘catch’ and make it sound like a fun thing to do. Your child will then hopefully be able to say ‘caaaaaa..t’. And you’ll encourage them to ‘catch that last sound!’ and identify which it was. They will hopefully say ‘I could feel my tongue with /t/!’. Or it might be working out the first sound. Again, encourage them to slowly say the word and catch the first sound. They will hopefully say ‘c….a’ and you might need to say ‘catch the first sound’. And hopefully they will say ‘c, c’ – no need to identify what made the sound if they already identified it!
Sometimes just having taken the time to ‘study’ the sounds, children feel a little bit more confident and aware of what they are doing. Knowledge is power!!
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