A continuation of my notes from a presentation by Kathryn Wilson, MS, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT on January 22-23, 2009 at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, entitled “Unlocking the Doors to Academic Success for Children with Hearing Loss! The Keys: Reading Aloud, Phonemic Awareness, Oral Narration”.
It isn’t enough for our children with hearing loss to become fluent speakers and adept listeners. It’s a great start, but there’s more work to be done! We must also give them the skills and exposure to master written English, which can suffer when a child has a receptive/expressive language delay.
So what are these “print skills”?
LETTER KNOWLEDGE: Knowing, and later pairing, upper and lower case letters; using letters to stand for words (ex: a child named Mike writes and “M” on a paper to show that it is his)
LETTER-SOUND ASSOCIATIONS: Matching printed letters with the sound or sounds they represent. This skill starts with the easiest letters, those that “say their names” like B, T, M, and S, and the proceeds to more difficult letters, and finally digraphs, or letter pairs like “SH” and “CH” whch have their own sounds.
PRINT AWARENESS/BOOK CONVENTION: These skills relate to general knowledge about books and the written word. Children should know, for example, that books are read top to bottom, left to right, etc, and that numbers, letters, and words are stand for different concepts. These are skills that help children become familiar with books even before they can read.
How can you help your child acquire these skills? It’s never too early to start. Just because your toddler might not be reading independently for two or three more years doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start TODAY building a strong foundation for a lifetime of literacy. The best way to develop these skills is to read to your child. Often. You can’t read enough. If you feel like you’ve had a busy day and not much formal “therapy” work has been done, just read two or three really good books before bedtime — it’s a simple, effective way to hit a multitude of speech and language targets and one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. While reading, draw your child’s attention to print. Point out letters that they know — like letters in their name — and talk about their sounds. Show how the cover of the boo tells the title, or name of the story. Have the child help you turn the pages. Involve your child with the printed word and make it a positive experience. You’ll see the rewards when they become not only competent oral communicators, but also silled readers and writers, too!