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How to Build Language Awareness

Four-year-olds benefit from hearing how language is broken into parts. This starts when kids can recognize rhymes (tall, ball), evolves when they learn to match words that rhyme or have alliteration (banana boat, silly songs), and grows into an awareness of syllables (base-ball, out-side).

Few young children spontaneously develop this awareness. You can foster it in your child by drawing attention to the sounds of letters, words, and sentences in daily activities.

  1. Sing songs that include rhyme and alliteration. Emphasize the sounds as you sing. These activities help children hear the sounds of speech.
  2. Play games to help your child hear the sounds of speech. Through clapping and tapping, children can increasingly understand that longer sound units are divided into parts (sentences into words, words into syllables).
  3. Read and reread stories and poems that have predictable sound patterns. When children hear the same text read multiple times, they begin to notice sound patterns.
  4. Encourage verbal play. Children adore jokes, riddles, and silly verses (the sillier the better). Encourage them to add their own verses and variations.
As your child's skills get stronger, try these activities:
  1. Play word games. Challenge your child to play with words. For example, ask her to think of words that rhyme with "cat."
  2. Hear word beginnings. Point out other words that begin with the same sound as your child's name, drawing attention to the similarities of the beginning sound. Use alphabet books or car games such as, "I'm thinking of something that starts with the 'buh' sound," to engage your child in hearing the similarity in the beginning sounds of words.

Get Ready to Read! Overview and Directions
Get Ready to Read! Skill-Building Activities

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This activity is provided by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. Get Ready to Read!, a program of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc, aims for all preschool children to have the skills they need to learn to read when they enter school. For more information go to Get Ready to Ready!


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