Logo Homeschool World ® Official Web Site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine Practical Homeschooling Magazine
Practical Homeschooling® :

Reading Corner: Learning to Speak

By Frank Armbruster
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #76, 2007.

What speaking skills can we expect from our children and at what age?
   Pin It
Frank Armbruster

Reading and writing are not natural; Nature has not prepared us to read. We must learn it. So... how do we, as parents and teachers, arrange conditions so that learning happens? What can we do to ease the struggle of learning to read? The answers to those questions are the subjects of these pieces.

Speaking is a natural thing. It is commonly accepted that the human species is hard-wired for speech. We make sounds and attempt to find meaning in others' sounds without any need for formal lessons.

Writing must be learned. Reading must be learned. Speech also must be learned, but in a different way. We need examples of our particular target language in order to imitate them and decipher them. For modern reading fluency, a child must also learn how to "break down" the sounds in spoken language.

Two areas of research shed light on the scope and sequence the experts are now using to teach reading. One area of research, pioneered by Jean Piaget, studies normal childhood development. Piaget showed that the developing mind goes through a sequence of stages that are identifiable, testable, progressive, and generally pretty predictable-within a normal range. The other area of research studies techniques of teaching. It asks, "What is the best way to teach and drill? What are the optimal steps of teaching and practice?" It deals with the sequence of presentations made to, and practice made by, the learner that minimize the time and effort required to acquire and develop reading fluency and comprehension.

Getting speech right is a normal prerequisite to understanding the basics of reading and writing. Here's a reasonable set of speech behaviors that-given reasons and opportunities-can be expected from the developing reader.

By Age 4

  1. Most children can imitate and then recite short, simple rhymes such as "Jack and Jill," "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe," or "Rock-A-Bye-Baby."

  2. When asked, can say a rhyming word from their own vocabulary, for example if asked for a rhyming word for blue, can say shoe, two, or boo.

  3. Can recognize when two words begin with the same sound, i.e. alliteration. Example: Mickey and Mouse start the same way. When asked, he or she can say a word with the same beginning sound.

By Age 5

In addition to what 4-year-olds can do, sometime between ages 4 and 5, most children can:

  1. Count syllables in short words. Example: they can say that Fido has two syllables. (We call them "two-tap" words.)

  2. Identify the individual segments in compound words. Example: airport is air and port and some (not all) can even say them reversed. When hearing airport, they can reverse them to say port and air.

In addition to the above, some 5-year-olds can probably:

  1. Begin to count and identify the phonemes (individual sound elements) in a short closed syllable word like cat, hat, bat.
    /c/ /a/ /t/, /h/ /a/ /t/, /b/ /a/ /t/ (each has three phonemes).

  2. Most 5-year-olds can reliably count syllables (taps) in any word they hear. Co-lo-ra-do (4), ba-na-na (3), A-mer-i-ca (4).

By Age 6

At age 6, when they enter formal schooling, normally developing children can generally be expected to:

  1. Reliably supply spoken words that begin with the more complex sounds. When hearing a sample word like cherry he or she will say chocolate or chew.

  2. When hearing three separated sounds with pauses between them, such as /b/... /a/... /g/, he or she can smoothly combine them to say bag.

  3. Reliably count phonemes in simple words up to four or five phonemes. Mommy (4), Daddy (4), baby (4), candy (5).

  4. Upon hearing a word, he or she can pick from some samples the one which rhymes. Example: the teacher says, "Hold up your hand when you hear a word that rhymes with Molly." Then the teacher says "Danny," "Polly" (hand goes up), "Candy," "Dolly" (hand goes up).

  5. Similar to the above example, with words that begin with the same sound.

  6. Given a simple word such as pig he or she can say it without the /p/ sound, ig.

That's enough for now. Next time we'll talk about a sequence of exercises to begin to help them learn the code for reading (interpreting) sounds from the letter patterns. We call that "reading aloud."

Free Email Newsletter!
Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, and up to three special offers from homeschool providers every week.

Popular Articles

Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way

Whole-Language Boondoggle

How to "Bee" a Spelling Success

Combining Work and Homeschool

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

A Homeschooler Wins the Heisman

Interview with John Taylor Gatto

Narration Beats Tests

Start a Nature Notebook

Myth of the Teenager

The Charlotte Mason Approach to Poetry

The Charlotte Mason Method

Teaching Blends

Phonics the Montessori Way

Who Needs the Prom?

Teach Your Children to Work

Classical Education

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

The History of Public Education

Don't Give Up on Your Late Bloomers

The Gift of a Mentor

Top Tips for Teaching Toddlers

Montessori Math

A Reason for Reading

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

Montessori Language Arts at Home, Part 1

Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps

University Model Schools

Getting Organized Part 1 - Tips & Tricks

How to Win the Geography Bee

Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

Bears in the House

The Benefits of Debate

Columbus and the Flat Earth...

The Equal Sign - Symbol, Name, Meaning

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

Top Jobs for the College Graduate

Joyce Swann's Homeschool Tips

What We Can Learn from the Homeschooled 2002 National Geography Bee Winners

Laptop Homeschool

Saxon Math: Facts vs. Rumors

Character Matters for Kids

Shakespeare Camp

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

AP Courses At Home

Getting Organized Part 3

Discover Your Child's Learning Style

Give Yourself a "CLEP Scholarship"

Critical Thinking and Logic

I Was an Accelerated Child

Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1993-2023 Home Life, Inc.