Tag Archive for: Reading

Phonics versus Phonemic Awareness ~ What’s the Difference?

Phonics involves seeing letters individually and connecting each one to a specific sound. Letters are broken down into consonants and Child Alphabetvowels. Vowels are broken down into long and short sounds and words are taught by beginning and ending sounds. The order in which letters are taught is in conjunction with typical child development.

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic Awareness involves the understanding that spoken words are made up of individual sounds; these are known as phonemes. A child who is phonemically aware is able to isolate sounds, manipulate sounds, blend and segment sounds orally and in written words. Essentially, it is the ability to hear the different sounds in speech. Students may not recognize the written letter that accompanies the sounds, but he or she will recognize it in speech. Therefore, phonological awareness comes before phonetic skills.

The following is a simple separation of these two important pre-reading skills:

Phonemic Awareness

  • Main focus is on sounds, or phonemes
  • Deals with spoken language
  • Primarily auditory
  • Students work with manipulating the sounds within words

Phonics

  • Main focus is on graphemes/letters and corresponding sounds
  • Deals with written language, or print
  • Both visual and auditory
  • Students work with reading and writing letters based on their sounds and spelling patterns

Phonics and Phonemic Awareness are similar; however, they serve two distinctive purposes. Proficient use of both skills is the first step in the journey of becoming literate. Despite the many studies and educational debates on teaching these reading skills and others, one thing has remained certain. The more a child is read to the better his or her reading skills will be.

How Sign Language, Singing and Reading Help Toddlers Learn to Communicate

Parents often ask if things like singing, sign language and reading will be effective in helping their child learn to communicate. The short sign language answer is, yes, yes and yes! Sign language, singing and reading to a child are all excellent ways to encourage a toddler’s expressive language. This blog will describe why and how each of these activities will benefit toddlers as they develop speech and language.

How sign language can encourage spoken language:

Language is a symbolic system, requiring the exchange of “symbols” that have meaning. For example, the word “ball” is a symbol for a round object that bounces. When children have an expressive language delay, sign language is a very effective (and well-researched) way to reinforce that symbolic system in the temporary absence of words.

Here are a few important things to consider when using basic signs with your child:

  • Pair the sign with the spoken word to ensure your child makes a connection between the two.
  • Keep in mind that communication goes far beyond spoken words; it also includes gestures (e.g. pointing, waving), facial expressions, eye-gaze and tone of voice.
  • reinforce and encourage other methods of intentional communication, while we do want children (if they are able) to eventually use speech, it’s equally important to encourage other ways that they can communicate.

How singing can encourage spoken language:

Children learn language primarily through hearing and imitating. Singing is a fun and engaging way for children to hear and imitate Read more

5 Activities to Help Your Preschooler Become a Reader

Learning to read is an intricate process that begins during infancy and continues through the first few years of elementary school. Partpreschool reading of this process includes awareness that words are made of up of sounds; and that those sounds correspond to letters.

Here are some suggestions to encourage literacy development in your preschooler:

  1. Point out environmental print, which refers to text on familiar labels, logos and signs. Some examples include stop signs, food labels and store names.
  2. Use ABC puzzles, books, magazines and environmental print to identify letters. You can cut out pictures from magazines that have sounds that begin with each letter and put them together into a book with your child. In addition, ask your child to find letters in his/her name on pieces of environmental print. Read more

What is Phonemic Awareness | Pediatric Therapy TV

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric speech therapist explains to our views what phonemic awareness is.

Watch our previous Webisode, when Elizabeth Galin, our academic specialist, explains how phonemic awareness is important as your child is getting ready to read

Today you will learn:

  • What are daily uses of phonemic awareness
  • How phonemic awareness develops as your child becomes older

Reading: It Comes in Stages

Child reading

Reading can sometimes appear to be an overnight skill, and there are even children who “teach themselves” to read before they reach the first grade. Often, it is a wonder that kids enter one grade with minimal letter knowledge and leave reading books on their own. It has been my experience that the skill of reading is often taken for granted. I was a quick reader (one of those annoying overnight type learners), but my sister struggled every step of the way. Now, as I work with children in early elementary school who are having difficulty with this skill, I have learned more and more to appreciate how tricky it is and how many skills go into the act of reading.

To better understand the process of learning to read, and to appreciate the lengths we’re pushing children every time we sit down with a story, I have listed the multiple steps of reading below:

  • First, kids see symbols and associate a symbol with an item- in simple terms, it’s like all of us recognizing those “golden arches” as a potential snack, drink, or rest break while driving on the highway.
  • Next, letters are identified.
  • Then, not only are  letters  identified, but they are also associated with the sounds they create in words (if we’re talking vowels, that list is LONG, whereas for consonants it’s typically only two or so- the hard and soft ‘g’ for example). Children at this stage are called “decoders.” That means they’re taking every letter and painstakingly identifying it, associating a sound, and blending one to the next and so on. I imagine the inner monologue of a six year old learning the skill to be something like this: “oh, that’s a B, b makes buh, ok and next is u, u can be you or uh….let’s see what comes next, g, ok g can say jee or guh, let’s put it together, boooj…no, buuug, no BUG, that’s it.” It’s no wonder that kids at this stage can sometimes get through a whole page, without a clue as to the meaning of the words. Their full attention was on decoding, not comprehending.
  • Some kids are wonderful decoders from the beginning; they have great sound and letter awareness and quickly make the leap to the next step, which involves “chunking” sounds together. Most importantly, kids must learn to chunk vowels which commonly occur together (like the ‘oa’ in boat and the ‘oo’ in boot). They also learn to recognize common words on sight, rather than expending effort fully decoding every word. At this stage, children sound much more fluent and less halting, and their intonation begins to match the meaning of sentences. This is because they are able to spend less energy on decoding and more energy on comprehension.
  • Even beyond this stage of an apparently competent reader, demands are increased – most notably in third grade. Children in third grade are expected to make the switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” That is often why children who fared well in early grades bump into difficulty in third and fourth grade “out of nowhere.” It is likely that their reading skills just have not developed to the point where they are now a tool to support learning, as opposed to a developing skill.

Support your kids’ reading skills- practice makes perfect and support makes practice bearable! Seek out assistance or evaluation if you feel your child could benefit. I feel (and I hope many agree) that it’s better to be proactive than reactive in literacy learning, so that reading can be a pleasurable pastime rather than a dreaded task.

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Teaching Your Child How to Spell

The ability to spell is a critical component for children to have in order to be successful in school and beyond.  The following ideas willgirl spelling help you teach your emergent reader to be a great speller:

Make Connections:

Spelling is best-learned in context. Several contexts can be provided for effective spelling instruction, such as word groupings and subject context.

First, spelling can be taught using the word grouping, also known as the word study method. This method teaches kids to make discoveries that involve patterns in words. For example, when studying words that begin with a hard ‘c’ or hard ‘k’ sound, children will discover that words that begin with a hard ‘c’ sound are usually followed by ‘a’, ‘u’ or ‘o’ (cat, cut, cot) and letters that start with a hard ‘k’ sound are often followed by ‘e’ or ‘I’ (key, kit). Children are then able to use the generalizations that they discover to spell more effectively.

Subject context can also help with teaching spelling. Is your child interested in trains? Gather a list of spelling words from a lesson on trains that will delight your child. Does your child have a favorite story? Focus on spelling words that are drawn from the story. When children are familiar with the words and have seen them in action in a favorite story or subject, they will be able to absorb the correct spelling more effectively.

Focus on All Sounds:

The ability to break down letters into their smallest sound or phoneme is also critical for spelling success. As you read with your child, be sure to teach all sounds the letters make including short and long vowel sounds, all consonant sounds, blends (bl, cl, tr, gr…), digraphs (th, ch…) and diphthongs (ow, ay…).  When children know these sounds, they will be able to break down words in order to spell.

Get Creative with Words During Play Time:

Aside from direct spelling instruction, the best way to help your child to become a strong speller is to encourage creativity and play with words during their free time. Have your child write a letter to Santa or to a far away relative during the holiday season. Create plays or short stories together and ‘publish’ them by adding a colorful cover. Use finger paints or iPad apps, such as “Elmo ABC’s” to encourage tracing, which is a fun way to reinforce letter sequence.

In general, spelling is best taught through a context of reading strategies and through experiences. The more integrated the spelling lesson is, the better. Have fun spelling, reading and playing with your child this holiday season!

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Works cited:
http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/learning/spelling.shtml
www.readingrockets.org/article/80/
www.specialized.about.com/od/literacy/a/spell.htm

Engaging Your Newborn Baby: 5 Simple Tips for Interacting with Your Baby

As a new parent, chances are that you have spent countless hours just gazing into your newborn’s eyes. However, between nonstop feedings, washing copious amounts of laundry, all of those diaper changes , and trying to sneak in a nap, some new parents may feel left in the dark when it comes to play time.  As your baby starts to become more interactive daily, you may quietly think to yourself, “Well, now what?”.

mom and infant playing

Here are some simple activities you can do with your baby throughout the day to help lay the appropriate foundation for language development:

Never underestimate the power of a smile

Babies love to look at faces. Even at an early age, they are able to be easily engaged and will focus on exaggerated facial expressions for a brief period of time. Therefore, take moments throughout the day to block off some face-to-face time. You will be amazed at how attentive your baby is during these times, and you will see him/her start to attempt to imitate the facial movements you make (especially with your tongue). They’ll get a kick out of seeing you smile, and how can you resist staring back at that adorable little toothless grin?

Turn bath time into play time

Bath time provides many opportunities for sensory exploration, so help maximize this time as much as you can by offering various textures of objects (washcloth, bubbles, water toys etc.) that contain different sensory properties. Talk about how the items look and feel, and even sing to your child during this time as well. Your baby will be calmed by the warmth of the water and soothed by the sound of your voice. Also, try to time bath time immediately before putting your child to bed in order to establish a nighttime routine.

Introduce books

You will help to facilitate a lifelong love of reading and literature when you introduce books at an early age. Provide your child with plenty of soft books and board books, which contain many bright and colorful pictures. Touch and feel books are perfect for this age, as they allow your child to be more interactive as well. Also, keep the books brief, as your little one is not exactly ready for a novel anyway. Short and simple books containing repetition are perfect for infants.

The importance of exercise

Any PT will tell you about the importance of tummy time, so help make this activity more fun and interactive for your child by providing various toys and objects for them to interact with. Try placing a child-friendly mirror directly in front of them, as your baby will love looking that the “other” baby staring back. Also, help encourage babies to follow your voice by moving to either side of them. Even at a young age, children are able to identify their parent’s voices, so by simply changing your position in relation to your baby, you will be enhancing this skill. You can also play simple games, such as peek-a-boo when facing your child, in order to keep them engaged.

Talk, talk, talk

Talk to your child throughout the day, especially when completing familiar activities such as washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and cooking dinner. Doing so will help to expose your child to the language associated with these activities. Though the “conversations” with your baby will seem very one-sided at first, over time you will notice that your baby will attempt to chime in when you are speaking. You will be able to quickly observe the give-and-take, as your child will quiet when you begin talking, then “comment” after you speak.

As a new parent, it can be completely overwhelming trying to juggle all of your responsibilities, so just remember to breathe! Don’t feel as though you have to do everything right off the bat. As you and your baby settle into a routine, you will notice that you are able to find some extra time to sneak in these activities.  By introducing just a couple of these ideas throughout the day, you will quickly notice that your child becomes more engaged during these times and will start to anticipate the activities as well.  Congratulations and welcome to the exciting world of parenthood!

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Best Books For Beginning Readers | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, an academic specialist introduces us to some of the best choices of books for children who are beginning to read.

To determine if your child is prepared to read, watch our previous Webisode

In this video you will learn:

  • What types of books are best to help children begin to read

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello. You are watching Pediatric Therapy TV, and I’m your host
Robyn, Ackerman. Today I’m sitting here with an academic specialist,
Elizabeth Galin. Elizabeth, can you tell us some great beginning reading
books?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. One of the best beginning reading books is the Bob
series. These are books that come in a package of ten, and they range from
pre-readers all the way up through second grade, working on different
sounds and they become more advanced as you move through.

My second choice is the We Both Read series, and the We Both Read series
has a page for parents to read, and then a page for the children to read.
So the child’s page has a more simple word or sentence, and the parents’
page allows you to get a more detailed story. It’s a really fun family
read.

The Flippa Word series is great as well. They work on three different word
families throughout the book, really bright pictures that allow the
children to address the different sounds. Just a really fun author for kids
of all ages is Mo Willems. He has the Piggie and Elephant series, and he
also has Pigeons on the Bus, great family reads.

Lastly is High Fly Guy for older kids. These books address some of the
needs of early readers, but they also arrange it into chapters, so older
kids feel like they’re really making some progress.

Robyn: All right, well thank you so much, Elizabeth, for bringing these,
and thank you to our viewers for watching. Remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

Books to Encourage Speech in a 1 Year Old | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a Pediatric Speech Pathologist introduces us to the best type of books to help encourage speech in a 1 year old.

For more on your baby’s speech read these blogs: “Speech Milestones from birth-1yr”  and “Encouraging Speech and Language Development in Infants and Toddlers” 

In this video you will learn:

  • What types of books are best for a one year old
  • How can the books help a baby’s speech and language
  • What content the books should contain

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. I’m sitting here today with a Pediatric Speech and Language
Pathologist, Megan Grant. Megan, can you show us some books that help
encourage speech in a child who is a year old?

Megan: Sure. Being a parent, it can be completely overwhelming walking into
the children’s section of a library or a book store. These are two great
tips when searching for books for your little one. First and foremost, you
want to make sure the size is appropriate. They should be smaller in size
that is perfect for little hands to hold. And also make sure that they are
board books. Board books are essentially just thicker cardboard books with
heavier pages. Not only are they easier for the kids to turn, but that way
they won’t rip them. And kids this age like to chew on books from time to
time, so you definitely will not destroy the books. So the size is
definitely key.

The second thing to keep in mind is make sure that the books are
interactive. They should have lots of bright, colorful pictures and pages
for the kids to look at. They should be attractive to the kids, and
essentially, too, you want to look for books that have the touch and feel,
so different textures of books, and also lift-the-flap and peek-a-boo books
are perfect for kids this age, as that will keep their interest as well. So
introducing books early on is definitely key, and you’re going to help
instill a lifelong learning of reading for kids, and that’s a wonderful
thing.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, Megan, and thank you to our
viewers. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

3 Signs Your Child May Have Dyslexia | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, an Academic Specialist explains ways to determine if your child has dyslexia.

Click here to learn more about dyslexia and find out more signs and characteristics to look for.

In this video you will learn:

  • What is dyslexia
  • How do children develop dyslexia
  • What are common signs in children with dyslexia

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host Robyn
Ackerman. I’m sitting here today with Elizabeth Galin [SP], an academic
specialist. Elizabeth, can you tell us three signs to look out for that a
child may suffer from dyslexia?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. And to start, dyslexia is a learning disability
characterized by an inability to decode words. So kids who have dyslexia
show trouble with spelling, with reading fluently, reading with accuracy.
It’s a deficit in the phonological component of language. So the first
thing that is a sign that your child may have dyslexia is a lack of
interest in reading. Most young children really enjoy reading and look
forward to that time but dyslexic kids, it’s difficult so they might run
away and hide. They’re not interested. Second is a lack of understanding
that letters make a sound, the phonological component again. So each letter
has an associated sound and that’s a really difficult association for
dyslexic kids to make. And lastly, dyslexic kids, when they begin to read
once they get a little bit older, they often make reading errors that
really just don’t even connect to the word at all. It’s different sounds.
Dyslexic kids often have a hard time sounding out words, and they have a
hard time with even the most basic of sight words. So if you’re seeing any
of those in your child, it might be worth a look.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, and thank you to our
viewers and remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.