Section 51 of the 2023 Arkansas LEARNS Act provides for screening school children for “phonological and phonemic awareness.”
Parents of pre-schoolers can prepare their children for reading success by making use of the time between birth and kindergarten.
Here are the six components of the prescribed screening instrument:
1 Sound symbol recognition
2 Alphabet knowledge
3 Decoding skills
4 Rapid naming skills
5 Encoding skills
6 Language comprehension
Parents can send their five-year-old to kindergarten already grounded in these six components.
Components 1 and 2
Prepare children for Components 1 and 2 by teaching the alphabet:
the shapes of the letters, both big and small
the names of the letters
the sounds that the letters stand for
Once the child has learned to identify some letters, numerals, shapes, colors, etc., you’re ready to practice rapid naming. Make a game of it. Take turns seeing how fast you each can name a set of letters, colors, or the like.
Component 3 and 5
Once a child has learned the sounds for three or four of the consonant letters and one sound for one of the vowel letters, you can teach encoding and decoding.
Before the child has the motor skills to write, use cutout letters to “write” three-letter words like mop or hat.
The parent says the word, emphasizing the three sounds in it. The child chooses the letter that stands for each sound and lays them down in order. This is “encoding.”
When the child succeeds at encoding a word, then you can show how to read it back. Looking at the word, have the child make the sound for each letter, running them together to say the word. This is “decoding.”
IMPORTANT: Encoding comes before decoding.
This is the most important component of all. Without language comprehension, reading makes no sense at all.
Parents develop this essential in their children by talking to them from birth. Tell them what you’re doing while you feed them, dress them, bathe them, shop for groceries. Read to them.
Send your child to school equipped with words and the required screening should present no difficulties.