Written by contributor Catherine Way of Indirect Observations.
One important skill that emerging readers need to develop is phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is sensitivity to the sound structure of language. Children who can detect and manipulate sounds are phonologically aware.
Until your child understands that words are made up of sounds and we can write these sounds down, they cannot access written language. Some children naturally pick up on this understanding, some need it made more explicit. As my children are not home-schooled, I try hard not to do “school” work at home (apart from homework). That means we don’t do worksheets, we don’t have a letter of the day, we don’t use flashcards.
Does this mean we don’t do literacy learning at home? Not at all. Incidental learning is happening all the time. I take advantages of many opportunities to reinforce their learning or bring up a relevant concept. With an emerging reader, like my 4 year old, I read books and talk about letters and words. I write things down for him. I help him write letters when he wants to. And we play games. These things all build his phonological awareness.
Literacy games for emerging readers
Here are some activities and games I use at home, that don’t seem like school work, but help children start to notice the sounds in words. I find that many of these games are fun to play in the car.