Emergent readers and struggling readers often need some practice with the building blocks of language–letters, the sounds they make when we put them together in print, and the words they make. While the larger goal of reading is comprehension, readers need to know how to work with letters, sounds and words so that they can construct meaning as they read.
Where do you start when you are tutoring a young reader struggling with letters and sounds? Our instincts often suggest that we teach the parts (letters and sounds) before we teach the whole (the words they make). However, tutors can teach important print and sound concepts by moving the other direction–from the whole (words) to the parts (letters and sounds). Let’s look at an example. The photos below show how a tutor can take a new word–wander–and use it to teach other words.
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Under construction: Some building blocks of reading