Reading is the most important skill that kids can have in their educational ‘toolbox’. However kids don’t just ‘pick-up’ reading, they have to be taught it. Learning to read is a complex art, one that requires kids to learn a series of skills in order to both recognise text and understand it. Educators have found that the most effective learning programmes that teach your child to read do so in a systematic and organised way that addresses five key literacy skills or areas:
Phonemic awareness comprises a number of skills that many kids only come to recognise in a formal learning setting. Children learn phonemic awareness from activities such as word games, language play, rhymes and other activities that develop their skills with words, syllables and the sounds within words, which are called phonemes. Phonemic awareness skills are best learned within a structured and systematic reading program that links all learning of individual skills to the larger goal of being able to read meaningful texts.
Reading Eggs uses a variety of phonemic awareness activities that immerse young readers in nursery rhymes, listening skills, sound play and alphabet books. In later lessons, children must listen to two or three words and then choose the one that includes the focus sound of the lesson. This trains children to be keen listeners to all the sounds that make up words. The Reading Eggs programme also frames the teaching of phonemic awareness skills in the larger context of a literacy programme that has as its goal children reading real books for meaning.
Researchers have found that one obstacle to kids learning to read is the difficulty in understanding and using the alphabetic principle. The alphabetic principle is the relation between letters and sounds that languages such as English have. Each letter and some particular groupings of letters are directly related to certain sounds. Kids who are unable to link letters to the sound(s) that they make can have a tough time learning to read, and the teacher who attempts to teach them reading may find that the task is more difficult than usual. Explicit phonics instruction is essential for any programme that aims to teach your child to read and have them reading fluently in the first few years of school. Such instruction introduces kids to the alphabet and the sounds that letters make in a carefully structured sequence.
Reading Eggs uses a number of structured activities and lessons that introduce children to letters and the sounds that they make. Carefully sequenced lessons build on one another so that kids can use the previously learned letters and sounds in each consecutive lesson. By Lesson 9 in the Reading Eggs programme, children are reading their first book. The goal of Reading Eggs is to have kids reading real books. The Reading Eggs storybooks and nonfiction titles are written to provide children with opportunities to practise their letter-sound correspondences and sight words they have been learning by reading extended text.
Fluency is the link between the recognition of words and understanding them. The most effective reading programmes encourage children to work on fluency skills, so that they can make the link between a word, its sound, and its meaning more quickly. Many skills come together when a reader reads fluently, including familiarity with the words of a text, the understanding of the content, a knowledge of phrasing and context, as well as knowledge of what a fluent reader sounds like.
The Reading Eggs programme uses a number of strategies to increase reading fluency. The programme models fluent reading of all books, encourages the re-reading of a text, and uses a number of activities that increase reading comprehension. Many of the activities within Reading Eggs aim to build an automaticity or quickness in the reading re-call of an increasing bank of high-frequency sight words; sight word recognition being one of the essential skills needed to become a fluent reader.
A good vocabulary also helps when kids are learning to read. The more words they know, the easier it will be for them to comprehend the text. Educators have found that the most successful reading programmes are able to accommodate children of different vocabulary levels, and also use images to help kids learn the meaning of words.
Reading Comprehension is seen as the essence of reading. After all, reading can seem pointless if you can’t understand what you read. There are a number of strategies that are helpful for readers to learn in order to assess how much of a text they understand, and at what level. These strategies include: monitoring comprehension, asking and answering questions, using graphic organisers of text, and recognising story structure.
Reading Eggs develops all five of the key literacy skills in young readers and provides an effective reading programme that will teach your child to read, and encourage young readers to read fluently.
My first-grade son truly enjoys his time on Reading Eggs. It has helped him in particular with sight words, word families, fluency, and confidence. He loves to ‘hatch’ his new characters and collect the golden eggs. The beginning evaluation accurately placed him at the correct level, allowing him to be successful and challenged.
- Anne S.
I believe that Reading Eggs is an exciting, on-line reading programme that engages students fully and ensures that they have fun while they are learning to read. It is simple to use, caters to all students and makes learning to read FUN. Well done!
- Ann Forbes, Glenmore State School