Thoughtful Parenting: The road to reading | SteamboatToday.com
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Thoughtful Parenting: The road to reading

Kim Schulz
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Learning to read is such an exciting milestone in a child’s development. For some children, it seems to come effortlessly, but for the vast majority, it takes explicit instruction and a lot of practice.  

While teachers of young children are who we rely on to have the knowledge to teach the specific skills needed to master reading, parents can also help their children on this journey. To read words, children need to know the letters’ sounds and how to blend the sounds together.

For example, to read the word “cat,” a child needs to recognize the letters, say the sounds individually and then blend them together to read the word. There are simple games and activities that you can play to practice these beginning reading skills. These games are generally for children in the 3 to 5-year-old age range. 

Just the sounds 

These activities are done without looking at letters, just listening. You can play them anywhere. 

Focus on rhyming words

  • What’s Next? light, kite, jite … (can be real words or not)
  • Play ​I Spy​ with rhyming words. “I spy something that rhymes with hook?”
  • Focus on beginning sounds
  • What if everything started with the same sound as … your name, my name, the dog’s name? Children think this is funny, and it’s practicing hearing and changing beginning sounds, an important skill for reading.
    Ex: Nico is nuilding in the nandbox.

Letter names, sounds 

  • Read ABC books: talk about the letter names and the sounds. Come up with more words that make that same sound. When the book has lowercase and capital letters, spend some time looking at the different shapes of the letters. Fun titles include ​”Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” “Dr. Seuss’s ABC” ​ and ​”A B See.”
  • Alphabet soup: put letters in a bowl (you can use magnetic or foam letters) and kids use a ladle to scoop out a letter and tell the letter name and/or sound. For a more advanced version, have your child tell a word that starts with this sound.

If you’re interested in learning more about beginning reading skills and getting more ideas for simple at-home activities, RSVP to ​info@steamboatreading.org​ for Steamboat Reading’s free workshop for parents of pre-readers and beginning readers at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 13 on Zoom. This workshop is made possible with a grant from Routt County United Way.

Kim Schulz is the executive director and part of the team of reading experts at Steamboat Reading. Steamboat Reading is a nonprofit that provides a community of support for struggling readers and their families. They are part of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition. Visit steamboatreading.org​. 


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