Listening leads to learning
         You can have your child’s memory for songs and poems reinforce her
reading and writing skills. One skill is auditory and the other is visual. They can
work together to support each other.

         The process from thinking to reading works like this: If you can think it, you
can say it. If you can say it, you can write it. If you can write it, you can read it.

         Your child, no doubt, knows the words to lots of poems and songs. Ask her
to say them to you. If she is in first or second grade, an emergant reader and
writer, she may be able to write what she hears. 

         If she needs help writing, but can say the words to you, write them for her.
But only do this after trying to encourage her to sound out the words herself. This
is a crucial part of the learning-to-read-and-write process: making the
connection between the sound of the letter and the letter itself. 

         After the words are down on paper, she can “read” them because she
can follow along with you as you read them. Help her move her finger from
word to word as you read together. In doing this you are re-teaching the flow of
reading from left to right.
         Having memorized a poem or song means that your child already knows
the words. Saying the words while following along with the writing can reinforce
the reading process. She observes that each word is distinct and that there are
spaces between them.

         You can help by going back to the words on the paper and asking such
questions as, “What is the first letter of this word? What sound does this letter
make?” Guide her through the word letter by letter.

         Many times, children memorize the text of beginning and familiar books.
This happens in especially fun books that they read with you over and over
again. Memorizing lines leads to being able to read the words in isolation.  

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s Advice for Parents.

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