Concept of Word is the number 1 goal of emergent readers. It is the watershed event in the life of young children that must take place before they can begin to read. So, what is it??!
Concept of Word is quite simply the understanding that a word is a group of letters surrounded by white space on either side. That sounds easy enough, right? It is not easy for emergent readers (typically children ages 4-6). These children need lots and lots (and lots and lots) of practice pointing to words as they read.
The best way to practice is to allow emergent children to read and reread familiar text. Yes, they are going to have the words memorized! Yes, the “answers” are all given away in the pictures! Yes, they can read it with their eyes closed! 🙂
The trick is to get the children to point to each word as they read, and to match their speech to print so that each word gets one touch. This is also known as tracking. An easy way to support children who are practicing tracking is to put touch dots under each word. I always place the touch dots near the first letter of the word because I want to train my emergent readers to look at the first letter. (This “I See Fall” book is from the Fall Centers and Circle Time unit.)
Our Pre-K students (who are 5-years-old or turning 5 in the next couple of months) participate in a “Book Club” enrichment session during lunch bunch one day per week. The students love this lesson and really look forward to learning their new books!
During the first month of school we read 4 books that used the words I, see, and a as well as numbers and color words. (This counting book is part of the Apple Centers and Circle Time preschool unit.)
The most important things to remember about working with emergent readers:
- Stories must be familiar and memorized.
- Encourage children to point to each word.
- Do not ask the child to “sound out” a word. If they are stuck on the word, tell them and then have them practice reading it.
- Keep it fun! If the child is not engaged or the book is too difficult, stop.
- Praise your child’s reading and invite him to read his book to many people– mom, dad, grandma, little sister, etc.
- Continue to read aloud to your children every day. Reading aloud is the single most effective way to prepare your child to read.
Have fun playing and learning with your children today.