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Speaking Up – How to Raise a Reader

Did you know that there are many skills that must be mastered before children are ready to read? These are called phonological awareness skills: the ability of a child to think about and manipulate sounds and words. Speech-language pathologists have the clinical experience to teach these early literacy skills, and often work with preschoolers and school-age children to support literacy development.

As a parent, it may be difficult to know where to start and how to practice these early skills. Here are some simple activities that promote phonological awareness for you to try at home!


Choose stories and songs that have lots of rhyming words. Read the story or sing the song together. Encourage your child to identify rhyming words by talking about words that sound the same. Later, see if your child can add a rhyming word to the list.

Segmenting Sounds

Segmenting is the ability to identify words in sentences, syllables in words and individual sounds in words. You can tap or clap once for each word in a sentence, or jump for each syllable in a word.  As your child progresses, you can work on identifying individual sounds in words. Make key chains with your child! Say a word like “baby” and have your child add one bead for every sound they hear (b-a-b-y = 4 beads).

Letter Sound Correspondence

Help your child match letters to their corresponding sounds.  You can play a sound guessing game, “what letter does M-m-m-mmmommy start with?” Or you could play “I Spy” and find objects that start with a sound, “I spy something that starts with the sound “b”.

Blending Sounds

Blending is the ability to combine individual sounds to form a word. Try playing a mystery bag game! “In my mystery bag, I have a b-a-ll”.  The reward for blending the sounds into the target word will be time to play ball with you.

Did you know?

Children with speech sound disorders are at risk for reading difficulties? Early intervention programs based on the development of phonological awareness skills are the first steps toward achieving reading and academic success.

Check out the “Ready, Set, Read!” program at Fern Speech and Language Services.


Elizabeth Skirving, M.S., M.Ed., Reg. CASLPO
Andrea Jennings, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO
Speech-Language Pathologists
Fern Speech and Language Services


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