She’s learning to read. But how did she read the word “once”? How did she read the word “time”? You can’t “sound out” these words.
She has learnt “once” as a sight word. She has learnt “time” because she knows the “e on the end of a word” rule that applies some of the time to indicate that the previous vowel is a long vowel. Not always, though: “love”, “have”.
How was she able to read “Once upon a time…” She can read these words because a reading teacher taught her. She would not be able to pronounce these words correctly if she hadn’t been taught to read.
Put an illiterate person on a desert island with a pile of books and an alphabet chart. That person will never work out the code. Reading is a skill that has to be taught. Someone has to show you how to do it, and show you properly. Reading needs to be taught by a specialist in the field.
Reading is not like speaking. It’s not a naturally acquired skill. And what complicates the learning process is that the English language has around 44 phonemes (single sounds), yet the alphabet only has 26 letters (two of which we could do without altogether). It’s little wonder that so many children struggle.
Adding to their problems is the confusion resulting from single letters representing so many sounds. For example, the letter “a” represents a different sound in all these words: cat, gate, wall, any, was, path, area, aisle. (In the final word the “a” is silent!)
Additionally, single sounds can be represented by several different graphemes (letters). Take the /or/ sound for instance. Check the spelling of these words (same sound, different spelling): fork, saw, roar, dwarf, talk, poor, four, Paul, thought, naughty. Phew!
It’s no wonder that many children find the reading process confusing. I Can Read recommends early learning centres as an essential preparation for the reading journey. And teaching reading needs to be done by a specialist. We know this from experience. Let’s be kind to our children and make the reading journey easy and enjoyable for them!
If you know a child who wants to learn to read or improve reading and other literacy skills, have a look at the programmes at the I Can Read System centres: programmes or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.