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Supporting Emergent Readers at Home

If your child is on the cusp of reading and you are looking for the next step, you have come to the right place!

Did you know that children learn to read in stages? After developing oral language skills, they begin to recognize letters. Then, they develop letter-sound relationships. Eventually, they string those sounds together to recognize CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and recognize an increasing number of high-frequency or sight words. Once they are at this point, they are ready to take the next step towards independently reading texts!

A Note about Phonological Awareness

Developing phonological awareness is one of the fundamental keys to success for children developing early language skills. Once children begin to build and develop their phonological awareness skills, they are better prepared for reading and overall language learning. Check out this image below from Book Play Everyday to better understand the elements that make up the foundation of phonological awareness.

If your child is still working on these fundamental skills, try doing activities that specifically foster and target these elements individually. For example, spend every Monday working on beginning sounds, every Tuesday on syllables, etc. For more intensive instruction, you can have syllable week or focus on rhyming words for several days in a row. If you feel like your child is struggling more than they should be with this step, feel free to reach out and we can talk about next steps!

If you feel that your child is ready to start reading, here are some things you can start to do at home!

1) Choose the right books.

Choose books that are targeted towards emergent readers. Look for beginner level texts or sets. Scholastic, Engage Literacy, BOB Books and Raz Kids (digital) are a few great options among many others!

Ensure that the books you choose have:

- large type

- limited text text on each page

- wide spacing of words/letters

- lots of pictures

- high frequency sight words

- repetitive word patterns

- themes/concepts that are familiar

Click here for an example of a beginner text.

Use the chart below to determine the level you should be looking for when purchasing levelled texts.

2) Practice book reading skills, too!

Practice how to independently hold a book, looking at the cover, finding and reading the title, turning pages, and following text from left to right using a reading finger. These are fundamental skills that we forget need to be explicitly taught. Personally, I like to teach reading sitting at a table that is proper height for the child, with the book flat on the table.

3) Teach reading strategies, not just memorization.

Sight words are high frequency words that often do not follow regular language patterns and therefore, we memorize them quickly and easily. Most people like to use lists such as Dolch or Fry words. While these are a part of developing reading skills, a child cannot rely solely on memorization as a strategy for decoding. This is why it is important to teach decoding strategies in addition to building their sight word vocabulary.

Feel free to print out this poster from The Reading Roundup and have it out during reading practice!

4) Continue building skills and vocabulary.

Once the reading train gets moving, keep up the momentum by regularly practicing skills and advancing forward at a reasonable pace. Continuing to build new skills such as recognizing blends and digraphs, and increasing vocabulary will help propel your child ahead in their reading skills.


Should I correct my child if they make a mistake?

I get asked this question all the time! The answer is both yes and no.

No - don't correct them immediately. The reason I say this is because if you correct them mid-sentence, they miss the opportunity to hear their own error and self-correct it.

Yes - at the end of the sentence, if they missed their error, pause and ask "Hmm..did that sound right? (Repeat the sentence the way they read it)". Ask them to identify the error. If they can, praise them! If not, point it out and either way, ask what they can do to go back and fix it (refer to the poster above if you'd like!). Turn errors into natural opportunities for instruction on self-correction.

If you are looking for more support or have any questions, please reach out!

Happy Reading!



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