How phonics can help your preschooler develop reading fluency

September 5, 2019 / Parent Resources

As a parent, one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a love of reading. Reading lets us explore faraway or fictional worlds from the comforts of our home. It increases our brain power and even helps us live longer!

Giving the gift of reading begins with early childhood education. Your child’s preschool years are an ideal time to lay the foundation for reading fluency. By providing your child with phonics instruction tools in their first five years, you can empower them to become readers for life. 

First, let’s consider the #1 skill a person needs in order for reading to be fun: reading fluency.

What is reading fluency and why is it important? 

Reading fluency refers to the ability to recognize words with very little thought and read text aloud naturally. A fluent reader is able to automatically identify, or decode, the words on the page. Because decoding is effortless for the reader, they are able to spend their energy on comprehension. To put it simply, fluency is what makes reading fun.

Before a child can fluently read sentences, though, they must first be able to process the letters in words. For this reason, phonics is a central component of early childhood education. Phonics instruction helps pre-readers connect print words to their existing oral vocabulary by linking sounds and their spellings. 

How do phonics help a child develop reading fluency

When children learn how to sound out words they’ve spoken before, they develop the same skill set that will allow them to decode unfamiliar words, or even complete sentences and paragraphs. According to Scholastic, 84% of English words are phonetically regular. This means that children who have an understanding of phonics will be able to read the vast majority of words, many of which are not in their existing vocabulary. Phonics provide the building blocks for reading fluency by creating the framework for processing written information. 

Given what we know about the importance of reading fluency and the value of phonics instructions, what are some ways parents can make pre-reading lessons fun for their children? 

What are some activities that teach your preschooler phonics? 

Today’s parents have many options when it comes to phonics instruction. There are a number of educational products on the market, from Hooked on Phonics’ classic kits to Osmo’s brand-new hands-on learning game Little Genius ABCs, in which children build letters from differently shaped play pieces. Included in the Little Genius Starter Kit, Osmo Little Genius ABCs game promotes letter recognition, vocabulary, construction, and phonics by connecting the letter shape with sounds and words spoken by Mo the Monster. 

For the analog parent, reading a few favorite books with your children regularly is an excellent way to teach the basics of phonics. As your children learn the stories by heart, they will be able to match the written words with the sounds they know. Writing and performing scripts, meanwhile, is a way to encourage reading fluency in more advanced learners. All of these activities  have the benefit of being enjoyable for parents and children alike. 
Learning to read opens up a world of adventure. Parents can help their children become readers by exposing them to phonics and establishing the groundwork for future reading fluency. Playing hands-on learning games, reading plays and staging scripted performances are three ways to introduce your preschooler to phonics. To learn more about Osmo’s games for early childhood education, visit https://www.playosmo.com/en/little-genius-sk/.

Osmo Little Genius ABCs game Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit