Understanding the Reading Process


Sometimes it’s hard to understand the process a child goes through in order to read and comprehend text. There are four important skills which lead to comprehension. The first skill is phonemic awareness, which is a person’s ability to understand words are made up of sounds. Phonological awareness begins when the individual is a baby.


Think about it, when your little bundle of joy was a baby, you would talk to him or her in a high pitch funny voice. Why do this? This is the first stage of babies learning how to communicate and understand language, but it also plays a critical role in a child being able to hear sounds. I remember when my daughter was a baby and I would tell her to say ‘mama.’ I would be directly in her eyesight being sure that she could see my mouth and clearly hear the sounds. I did not want her to get confused and say ‘dada’ which is what they usually say first because I believe it is easier due to the formation babies have to make with their mouths to form the sound of the letter m.

Phonemic awareness includes a child’s ability to isolate sounds, segment sounds, add phonemes, blend sounds, delete sounds, and substitute sounds. Everything that pertains to phonemic awareness has to do with sounds, not print.

Portrait of boy


Isolate Sounds

What does it mean to isolate sounds? Just think about when someone is isolated, the person is alone or by himself or herself, so isolating sounds involve the student telling a person the beginning, middle, or end sound. For example, if you ask your child what is the first sound or the beginning sound he or she hears in the word girl. The child should be able to tell you the /g/ sound. This same question applies to the middle and ending sounds in words asa well.

Moms you could turn this into a game with the kids. This could be done any where. Have the child identify different items in the house. If the child says sofa, ask the child what the first or last sound is and then go to the middle sound. Be sure to show  your child how to know which sound is first, middle, or last.

Segment Sounds

When sounds are segmented they are taken apart. For example, if a person segments the sounds in the word jump the person would say the sounds /j/, /u/, /m/, /p/. The person would be able to say each sound in the correct order. For a child just starting practicing this skill, it can be difficult. It is important that the child practices this skill, especially if the child learns at a slower pace.

Make this into a game. Children love to compete. Give the child points for each one they get right and if the child receive a certain number of points then they earn a piece of candy or a short time for a favorite activity. This game could be done with any of the parts of phonemic awareness.

Add Phonemes

A phoneme is a sound unit. If you say to a child, say the word top now add the sound /s/ at the beginning of the word top, the child should respond by saying the word stop.

Blend Sounds

Blending sounds is the opposite of segmenting sounds. When a child blend the sounds, they hear the sounds segmented and they put the sounds together in order to say the word. For example, you may say  to the child /r/, /u/, /n/ and then the child will say the word run.

Delete Sounds

If you say to a child say ran without the /r/ and the child responds an. The child is able to leave the r sound off and say the remaining part of the word.

Substitute Sounds

When substituting sounds the student is able to change one of the sounds to a given sound. For example, if you ask the child what would the word cup be if the /c/ was /p/ and the child responds pup. The child was able to substitute or change one of the phonemes.

The link below is from http://www.lakeforestlakers.com which contains a few worksheets which you can use with your child to help with phonemic awareness.

Phonemic Awareness Worksheets

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