Decoding is the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before. Although children may sometimes figure out some of these relationships on their own, most children benefit from explicit instruction in this area. Phonics is one approach to reading instruction that teaches students the principles of letter-sound relationships, how to sound out words, and exceptions to the principles.

A parent's perspective: What I see at home

Here are some clues for parents that a child may have problems with word decoding and phonics:

  • She often gets stuck on words when reading. I end up telling her many of the words.
  • His reading is very slow because he spends so much time figuring out words.
  • She's not able to understand much about what she's read because she's so busy trying to sound out the words.
  • It's as if he doesn't know how to put the information together to read words.
  • Saying "sound it out" to her just seems to make her more frustrated.
  • He guesses at words based on the first letter or two; it's as if he doesn't pay close attention to the print.

If you are concerned about your child please speak to the child's teacher and or the reading specialist.  These are some of the things you can try when reading with your child at home.  If it becomes frustrating -just tell them the word!

  •  Use your pointing finger.

  •  Look at the picture and think about what makes sense.

  • Does that make sense?

  •  Get ready to say that first sound of the tricky word.

  •  Reread and try it again.

  • You got the first part but look at the second part (or ending) and vice versa.

  • Does it have an ending?

  • Look for a part you know.

  • You know this part, can you use it to help yourself?

  • Ask: Does it make sense? Does it sound right? Does it look right?

  • What else can you try to help yourself ?                                         

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