Phonemic Awareness & Learning to Read - Phonemic Awareness is a critical early step

Learning to read has a sequence. If a student is forced to try to learn skills that he or she does not yet have the foundation for, he or she might become frustrated and loose confidence.  Parents should get a sense of what the right sequence is so that they do not inadvertently frustrate their child. Prior to learning to decode words with phonics, there are a few important prereading skills.
 
An important prereading skill is phonemic awareness. Children become aware that words are made up of sounds which can be assembled in different ways to make different words. Children build these pre-reading skills by practicing nursery rhymes and playing sound and word games such as learning to hear and recognize rhymed words. Tutoring, workbooks, games, or structured computer programs can help teach or reinforce these skills. Parents help in this process by providing high-quality educational materials, establishing a pattern of daily reading, creating a rich language environment, discussing your child's progress with teachers, and following up on their recommendations.

As this phonemic awareness is developed, children should become interested in how words are portrayed in print. Daily reading sessions with the children following along should help develop their understanding of print concept and feed this curiosity. This interest in decoding the words is the fuel for children learning the alphabet and phonics decoding skills.  For more information on teaching phonemic awareness, read the Put Reading First report on Phonemic awareness instruction.  

The "What Works?" Report found that the five key areas in learning to read are phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. 

 The Reading Skills Pyramid  illustrates a typical sequence for acquiring reading skills for use by parents for homeschools and enrichment. The reading skills are organized using the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) system.  The "What Works?" Report found that the five key areas in learning to read are phonemic awareness, phonics, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and reading fluency.

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The Reading Skills Pyramid

Key skills and dependencies

Phonics & Learning to Read

Phonics is a critical step in learning to read. Yet teaching phonics without children having phonological awareness and phonemic awareness or basic print concepts, will fail. The steps in learning to read include phonics as one of many critical steps. The Reading Skills Pyramid illustrates a typical sequence for acquiring reading skills for use by parents for homeschools and enrichment. The reading skills are organized using the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) system. See below for more details.

The Reading Skills Pyramid visually depicts the patterns of concept acquisition that children follow in becoming successful readers up through third grade. We recommend a high level of parent involvement in this process by providing high quality educational materials, establishing a pattern of daily reading, creating a rich language environment, and discussing your child's progress with teachers and following up on their recommendations. While most children follow the same sequence of acquiring literacy skills, they do so at their own pace. All children are different: if you have questions or concerns about your child's progress in reading, contact his or her teacher.

Time4Learning sponsors this site as a public education effort. Time4Learning provides interactive  online curriculum for home education for either homeschooling or enrichment. Time4Learning is an advertisement-free online service providing preschool through 8rd grade curriculum, great games for kids, and progress reports for parents. Children like the lessons, they love the playground. Parents love the convenience and effectiveness. Listen to what other parents are saying in their home school curriculum reviews. 

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Note  
This Reading Skills Pyramid illustrates the analysis of skills and grade level targets determined by the U.S. Department of Education. Curriculum differs from state to state and many children will develop faster than these targets These norms represent average levels of reading achievement.
Putting Reading First - Introduction A government sponsored study on Reading
Phonemic awareness instruction
Phonics instruction    
Fluency instruction
Vocabulary instruction
Text comprehension instruction