How To Teach Children to Sound Out Words

Familiarity with word sounds forms the foundation of young children’s reading ability. When they know how to sound out words, children will find it easier to read. Sounding out words is taught in school, but it will be beneficial if you teach your child how to do it before he even goes to school. Teaching how to sound out words is a long and hard procedure, but here are some tips.

  • Start with simple words. Simple words mean short and one-syllabic words. It is best if you choose words that the child often uses, sees, and hears, so he can easily make an association. You can, for instance, use milk, eat, drink, dog, cat, and book.
  • Introduce the letter sounds. Before you teach the child word sounds, it is important that he knows how each letter sounds. You can teach him the letter sounds in a variety of ways. Use, for example, alphabet flash cards. As you hold the flash card up, say the name of the letter and sound it out. Ah for A, buh for B, kuh for C, duh for D, i for E, and so on.
  • Sound out the words. Your child will learn by actually hearing the sound of the words. So pick one word, write it on a paper, and sound it out. It is important that you point the letters of the word as you make the sound. This way, the child can associate the sound with each letter. Remember to enunciate the word well, so he can easily pick up the sound. And don’t forget to ask the child to repeat the word.
  • Teach him long words. When he shows readiness, introduce longer and multi-syllabic words to your child. However, make sure to break down the words. For example, break down the word pineapple into three: Pine-ap-ple (pahyn-ap-uhl). Sound out one syllable at a time, and when the child is ready, sound out the entire word.
  • Make sure the child knows the meaning of the word. Don’t assume that because the child can successfully sound out a word, he knows and understands what it means. Most likely, he doesn’t. So remember to define what a word is by using pictures and actions. The ability to associate the word with its definition will make the child a better reader.
  • Encourage the child to practice. Every time you encounter a word you studied together, point it to your child and ask him to sound it out. At first, he will recognize only the first letters of the word, but make sure to help him along and sound out the entire word. As you continue to practice, the child will gradually recognize a word and be able to sound it out.

Remember to be patient. There will be times you will get frustrated, especially if your child seems to learn at a slow pace. That’s okay. You have to understand that learning to sound out a word is a difficult process for the child. Take it slow and allow your child to learn at his own pace.


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