After watching a tutor at the library jam a bunch of flashcards in front of what seemed to be a first or second grader, I wanted to jot down a few quick tips for the transition from reading letter sounds to reading words.
1. Introduce letter sounds first.
2. Now use those sounds to teach CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant words such as "bat")
3. When you teach CVC words, use the short "a" sound first: bat, hat, cat, rat, and so forth. Don't mix in other short vowel sounds until your child is familiar with the other short "a" words: bad, cap, map, mat, etc.
4. Introduce short "e" words in the same way. Then introduce the other short vowel words in order: a,e,i,o,u
If your child stumbles on, say, the word "map" when he or she read "mat" without problem, review the letter sounds. Do this without stress or giving your child the feeling that he or she is not doing something right. Make it natural, easy, and enjoyable.
The point of early reading instruction is to instill a love of reading and language as your child learns the basic building blocks of the language. There is absolutely no point in skipping ahead to difficult or new words if the basics are still shaky. Don't drill your child to death. Take a break, do some reading aloud with stories, and remember that is your one chance to create a child who loves reading!
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