Early Childhood Reading Help

If you are an Early Childhood Education degree, much of your studies will prepare you for teaching young children literacy and how to read. Reading skills are important to students’ success in school and beyond. Proficient reading skills provide the foundation for success in other academic subjects such as math, history, literature, and science. Students who are literate by the third grade have higher high school graduation rates. Still, few children learn to read effortlessly and 60 percent of children require extra help to learn to read and to improve their reading proficiency. In 2007, 67 percent of fourth grade students read at or above the proficient level and 69 percent of eigth graders read below a proficient level.

Most children who have difficulty reading can improve their proficiency through the use of intervention programs that include phonemic awareness, phonics, and reading comprehension plans. Early intervention programs that involve teachers and parents and include activities for students both inside and outside of the classroom increase the probability that struggling readers will achieve reading proficiency. The Internet provides many opportunities for students to work on their readings skills through games, online activities, printable worksheets, and evaluations. The resources in this article may help children improve their reading level through phonics, phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, and vocabulary building activities.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the awareness that words are formed by grouping sounds together, and that different words are formed by manipulating how the sounds are combined. These sounds are called “phonemes”, which are the smallest unit of speech distinguishing one word from another. For example, by changing the phoneme “p” in “pin” to the phoneme “t”, the meaning of the word changes. Phonemic awareness comprises various abilities including the ability to hear rhyming words and alliteration, to understand that syllables form words, to be able to identify a word’s beginning, middle and ending sounds, to make words out of individual phonemes (phonemic blending), to split syllables, to count syllables (phonemic segmentation), and to manipulate phonemes to form different words through addition or subtraction.

Phonics

Phonics connects spoken sounds to written letters or groups of letters. By teaching children that the sounds they hear are represented by printed letters of the alphabet, phonics help children sound out new words. When beginning readers are able to sound out unfamiliar words, their word recognition increases. As students can recognize more words, their reading fluency increases. Students who can read fluently are able to concentrate on improving reading comprehension.

Word Study Skills

Word study skills are strategies to help students identify unfamiliar words while reading. Knowing what prefixes, suffixes, and stems mean and being able to identify them can also help identify an unfamiliar word. Studying homophones, or words that sound alike but have different meanings and words with multiple meanings such as “bat” or “bar” can increase vocabulary and comprehension. Learning words together with their synonyms and antonyms allows students to make associations between new and familiar words. By learning to recognize compound words and break them down into their constituent parts, students can determine the meaning of a new word. Word study skills allow students to increase their reading comprehension.


Reading Comprehension

In order to connect existing knowledge to new information in the text, a proficient reader must utilize a variety of strategies to organize the new material into manageable sections. Students must be able to identify the parts of a text, such as the title, opening and concluding paragraphs, and transition words to identify the main theme and supporting details of a text. Good readers also engage actively with the text. Active engagement can include questioning the text, or answering a list of questions such as “who?”, “what?”, “when?”, “where?’, and “why?”. Active engagement also includes highlighting and summarizing the material and reviewing the information from memory after reading. Developing a variety of reading comprehension strategies allows students to absorb and retain information through reading.

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