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Reading help for kids
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Parents of primary school age children often ask what they can do to help their children become better readers. You really don’t need any special training or equipment to make a positive difference in your child’s reading skills.

There are several key components of reading readiness that help prepare young children to learn to read. The first component is familiarity with print and books. It is important that your child knows that the words he/she sees in a book are related to the words that he/she speaks and hears. Your child also needs to know that you begin reading with the cover right-side up, and move from front to back, one page at a time. Children should also know that you read from the left to the right, and from the top to the bottom of each page.

Another component of reading readiness is the recognition of letters. The more letters your child can recognize, the sooner he/she will be ready to begin sounding out words and reading.

Phonological awareness is another key component of reading readiness. This involves being able to distinguish the sounds in words. Children must be able to recognize that letters have their own sounds and they should recognize that words are made up of syllables.

The last major component of reading readiness is phonemic awareness. Children should understand that all words are composed of different sounds, called phonemes. There are 44 phonemes in the English language that represent the parts of sound in spoken words. Phonemic awareness enables students to hear, identify, and manipulate the sounds of different letters. For example, separating the word "cat" into three district sounds, /k/, /a/, and /t/, requires phonemic awareness skill.

The most important factor in helping your child become a better reader is that you have an attitude that reading is important, and that it can also be fun. Parents who are readers usually teach their children, by example, the joy of reading every time they pick up a book, a newspaper, or a magazine. Keep reading materials around your home and let your child see you read on a regular basis. Take your child to the library with you and let him/her check out books that he/she finds interesting.

As your child’s first teacher and also most important teacher, you teach your child about sounds and language every time you talk with, listen to, or read to your child. Every exposure to oral language is a learning opportunity for young children and helps to prepare them to become successful readers.

Written by Dr. Patti Newman, principal at Lanier Primary School.

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