Skip Navigation


Follow us on:
Supporting Your Child's Reading at Home
Recommendation 2: Linking Sounds to Letters

Help your child link sounds in speech to letters in print.

Sounds in Words: Syllables

syllables

Although speaking and listening may not seem related to learning to read, being aware of sounds in words is very important to reading. This awareness allows children to break apart words orally and use sounds to learn to read and write words. Children first need to become aware of sounds in words without relating those sounds to print. They demonstrate their knowledge using their speaking and listening skills.

You can help your child develop an awareness of sounds in spoken words. Singing silly songs and making up silly words or poems are ways to enhance your child's awareness of sounds. These skills are fun to practice because most children love to play with sounds in words. You can make up silly sentences where most of the words begin with the same sound: Leo the lion liked to lick a lot of lollipops!

There are many types of different sounds in words. For example, one skill is being able to separate words into syllables, or parts, like knowing that the word folder has two syllables, or parts: fold-er. And the word computer has three syllables or parts: com-pu-ter. Being able to separate words into syllables will help children break a word into parts in order to read or spell the word.


Sounds in Words: Rhyme

rhyme

There are many different types of sounds in words. For example, rhyming words represent a type of sound relationship between words. Children need to have the ability to recognize when words rhyme. Words rhyme when they have the same ending sound. For example, blue and shoe rhyme and moon and spoon rhyme. When children recognize words that rhyme and can say a word that rhymes with a word they are given, they can use known words to read new words—for example, they can use the known word fall to help read the unfamiliar word wall.


Sounds in Words: Individual Sounds

individual sounds

Although speaking and listening may not seem related to learning to read, being aware of sounds in words is very important to reading. This awareness allows children to break apart words orally and use sounds to learn to read and write words. Children first need to become aware of sounds in words without relating those sounds to print. They demonstrate their knowledge using their speaking and listening skills.

Being able to recognize the individual sounds in words is the most important skill for learning to read that is related to sound awareness. When you see a letter between forward slashes, /s/, say the sound of that letter. If you see a letter without forward slashes, s, say the name of that letter. An example of phonemic awareness is knowing that the word cat has three separate sounds (/k/ /ă/ /t/) and that the first sound in cat is /k/ and the last sound in cat is /t/. Recognizing individual sounds in a word that is spoken will eventually help children "sound out" a word when they begin to learn to read simple words. For example, a child who can hear three separate sounds in sat, /s/ /ă/ /t/, can then link a letter to each sound, s a t, and read the word sat.

It is also helpful if children can identify beginning and ending sounds in a word. For example, in the word cat, the beginning sound is /k/ and the ending sound is /ăt/. In school, we may talk about word families. Word families are groups of words that have the same endings. For example, bat, cat, and sat are all in the same word family.


Letter Names and Letter Sounds

letter names and sounds

It is important for children to know letter names and letter sounds.

  • Letter-name knowledge is recognizing and naming letters. An example of recognizing letters is when you show a child the letters N, A, and S and ask which letter is S, the child points to the S. An example of naming letters is when a child looks at the letter M and orally names that letter.
  • Letter-sound knowledge is demonstrated when a child can look at a letter in print and tell you the sound it represents. For example, if you point to the letter F and ask, "What sounds does this letter make?" the child will say, "/f/."

There are many ways to support your child's knowledge of letter names and letter sounds. For example, you can look for a specific letter in a book or in a newspaper and then ask your child the sound that letter represents. You can point out letters on signs while in the car. You can sing the alphabet song while getting ready for school or doing chores at home. You can have your child identify specific letters in a magazine and then practice writing the letters.


Linking Sounds to Letters

linking sounds to letters

An important step in learning to read is being able to connect how words are separated into individual sounds with knowledge of how letters relate to sounds. For example, being able to hear the individual sounds in the word sat, /s/ /ă/ /t/, and knowing that s represents /s/, a represents /ă/, and t represents /t/. Word-building activities can be used to support your child's learning to read and spell.