Reading is a skill that needs to be taught
Teaching children the relationship between a letter and the sound it makes is just the beginning of a journey to learn how the sounds work together to form a word. It is only by blending the sounds together that the word is read. Decoding a word that a child does not recognise is also a skill that needs to be taught.
This month, I facilitated a workshop with Grade 1 educators looking at ‘reading strategies’, also called ‘word attack skills’. We explored what these are and how we can teach the learners these skills so they can become independent readers. There are a number of strategies but we focused on four: blending sounds to read, use of high frequency words, chunking and use of pictures.
Blending to read is the most important skill and we practised how to teach the learners to blend to read using sound buttons. Although the educators already teach high frequency words by repetition, we looked at how to help the learners explore the word in more detail. This involves more focused work on what sound the word starts with, how many letters are in the word, the shape of the word etc. The educators particularly enjoyed sharing their ideas with each other on how we can teach the learners to use pictures to guide their reading.
The workshop will be followed up with classroom visits to support the educators in putting into practise what they learnt and how well the learners are developing these skills. We will also discuss further how to encourage the learners to use these skills in their everyday reading.