Welcome to the Family Literacy Circle’s Kindergarten Series
This year is a HUGE one for your 5-year-old ! Kindergarten is one (yes, another one) of your child’s milestones. Many preparations for changes are needed for a successful launch into his/her first, big school year.
Five of the major Literacy Acts influencing this new Play are: Language Skills, Play Power, Choosing a School, Reading Skills , and Writing Skills. So, I am dividing this incredibly important year into a series of 5 separate blog posts.
You should listen to even the smallest voice; someday it could be the one that makes a difference. ~ Crystal Marcos
ACT ONE : Language Skills
Your lively, spirited, and VERY curious 5-year-old child is SO ready to embrace the wonders of the world ! Those tools s/he has so diligently been working on and with are beginning to show some mastery. Frustration levels are lessening and confidence levels are rising. S/he is even amazing him/herself. “Look what I can do !” & “Wanna see me……?!?” are frequent expressions now.
Within just one year, from age 4 to age 5, s/he has experienced tremendous growth in his/her gross & fine motor skills (moving & grasping) , language skills (understanding & speaking), cognitive skills (thinking & learning), and social skills (feeling & relating).
Here are some “new ” Motor & Social Skill developments you might be seeing during this incredible year:
Gross Motor Skills
- throws a ball overhead
- jumps over low objects
- rides a 3 wheeler with skill
- skips ~ a thrilling moment
- catches bounced balls ~ another thriller
- can change the direction, speed & quality of movements
Fine Motor Skills
- shows a right or left hand preference
- controls & uses a fork & knife
- dresses oneself with little help
- can manage zippers & buttons
- can lace shoes, but not tie yet
- cuts on a line with scissors
- uses pencils & crayons in a more exacting way
- is eager to try new things & take risks
- makes decisions for oneself
- notices the feelings of others
- likes to feel grownup, especially when relating to younger children
- has a basic understanding of right & wrong
- understands & respects rules
- enjoys giving & receiving
- wants to collect things
- needs to have a “hide-away” place for alone time
Encouraging Your Child’s Motor & Social Skills
Iowa State University’s Extension & Outreach program suggests these teaching & learning opportunities:
Gross & Fine Motor Skills
- using a broom
- pouring from a pitcher
- playing “Follow the Leader” with skipping, galloping, hopping
- tossing a ball at a target
- helping to ride a bicycle with training wheels. if your child expresses an interest
- cutting out coupons
- setting the family table
- providing that comfortable “hide-away” place
- helping him/her understand strong feelings
- giving her/him words to cope with strong feelings
- praising specific behaviors specifically
Loving & Learning Language (with Some Deletions)
Believe it or not, your 5-year-old can understand between 4000 & 5000 words AND will gain 3000 more words within the year. Many new words will be learned through new experiences with new books, particular areas of interest (animals, plants, community helpers), and category names (weather, planets, cooking).
S/he has a speaking vocabulary of between 2200 and 2500 words with few pronunciation or grammatical errors. S/he is constructing 5-8 word complex & compound sentences, including conditional “If” statements!
I know you might be thinking, “Do we even say that many different words when speaking to him/her ?!?”
And now you’re saying, “Where did you hear / learn that word (or those words)?!?!?”
Your directed speech to your child may not contain a big variety of words, but s/he is listening to and watching a LOT more language than your expressions from a LOT of different sources. Think ~ other people, young & old, everywhere…….
If your child listens to what s/he hears, understanding what is being said may, or may not be part of his/her language experience. Remember spelling certain words around certain ears…..
You’ll know what s/he knows as the words (like them or not) come tumbling out of your “babe’s mouth”……
The Difference Between Understanding & Speaking Skills
Understanding Language Skills
- follows 3-step directions without cues*
- makes sense of what is said at home & at school (most of the time)
- comprehends short stories & answers question with accuracy
*Problems with Following Directions? Check out Meeting the Following Directions Challenge in my Resource Library : https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/resources/meeting-following-directions-challenge/
Speaking Language Skills
- speaks in multiple sentences at a time
- enjoys conversations/dialogues with adults
- likes to tell stories, riddles & jokes
- will argue, debate & occasionally bargain
- makes direct requests, using cause & effect reasoning
A major perk at this time of your child’s speech & language development is his/her ability learn a second or third language ! This will improve how quickly your child understands and, then, applies new information as well as using it in creative ways.
Encouraging Your Child’s Language Skills
During the last 5 years (and even before that- in utero), you have been engaging & interacting with your child. This is why his/her language skills are developing so nicely.
The “Ages & Stages” content for a 5-year-old in Iowa State University’s Extension & Outreach program and I suggest continuing your productive work with these teaching & learning opportunities. They will encourage your child’s language growth in listening, understanding & speaking :
Listening & Understanding Skills
- talk with your child as s/he learns & practices new tasks
- ask your child to create new & different endings to familiar stories
- help your child memorize his/her address & phone number
- discuss community helpers & their jobs
- have your child give you directions on how to do something
- ask your child to tell you a story
- encourage your child to recount an adventure and/or outing
- urge your child to use her/his 5 senses when describing an experience and/or object
- engage your child in a conversation using questions
- have conversations that promote your child’s curiosity
Carrie Clark, a speech pathologist, has LOTS of wonderful resources, tips, ideas & games on her website to promote your child’s growth & development in her/his language skills. Click on this link: https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/
Speaking of Language & Literacy….
Understanding and using language to speak are building blocks for the reading component of Literacy. The beginning skills included in Phonological Awareness are followed closely by Phonemic Awareness and, then, Phonics.
Sound like the same stuff???
They are related, but skill specific. (See “Phonology, Phonemes & Phonics….Oh My !” in Reading & Writing with Your I Am Four !) Click on the link: https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/building-reading-writing-skills-with-your-preschooler/
During your child’s 4th year, s/he really showed an enjoyment for rhyme (can, fan, man, pan, ran) and alliteration (Freddy found forty fossils).
Between 5 & 6 years old, s/he can learn to:
- recognize and produce rhyming words: bug, hug &_______?
- clap and count syllables: cat (1), rabbit (2)
- blend a beginning sound with a rime: /m/ /at/ (mat)
- identify a beginning sound: in “dog” /d/
This last component bridges into the Phonemic Awareness realm of The 41 English Sounds. More on the Land of Phonemes the Family Literacy Circle post for age 6.
“J” Is the First Sound in ………….
Wondering how your child’s Phonological Awareness skills are progressing?
Jen, a K-12 Reading specialist, & Kathi, a K-6 Literacy coach are “hellotwopeasinapod”. They have combined their expertise and graciously freebied a great Phonological Awareness Assessment, which, also, tests Phonemic Awareness. This diagnostic will help you identify what your child’s skills are.
This verbal & audio assessment comes with teacher directions and is aligned with reading curriculum expectations. It includes rhyme, syllable counts, & Phoneme objectives. Use it as a discovery tool every few months to help you & your child know which skills are mastered and which skills need review.
Click on this PDF link below for this thorough diagnostic tool:
Remember Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear & manipulate individual sounds. Your child may not be ready to distinguish, identify & play with all 41 sounds yet, but s/he will as the year progresses.
Phonological Awareness Skills Teaching Sequence
Language & Speech research agree on the following recommended order for teaching children these skills. The latter parts of the skill sequence are the beginnings of Phonemic Awareness. Dr. Rhea Paul, an expert in Psycho-linguistics, has published many books in this field. Here are her recommendations:
- Rhyming words
- Dividing words into syllables
- Combining syllables into words
- Identifying words with the same beginning sound
- Identifying words with the same ending sound
- Counting the individual sounds in words
- Identifying the different sounds in words
- Blending individual sounds into words
- Manipulating sounds in words
- Identifying the sounds each letter makes
This may all “sound” like a bunch of “hair-splitting mumbo-jumbo” to you, but being able to play with word sounds is a critical part of how your child will make sense of the words s/he is reading.
Teaching your child these skills doesn’t need to be a “sit down and do” affair. Informal, everyday, anywhere practice is a very productive way for learning the sounds of words. Oral interactivity is the only material needed.
Okay….So, Where & When Do I Teach These Skills?
You can practice Phonological Awareness skills with your child while standing in a line, sitting in a waiting room, shopping for groceries, driving in the car, watching your child bathe, picnicking in the park, eating meals/snacks, reading books, looking at environmental print, reading cereal or juice boxes, playing in the pool, and/or walking the dog.
And How Do I Teach These Skills?
Carrie Clark, the speech pathologist @speechandlanguagekids offers some tips and ideas:
Rhyming words : point out rhyming words when reading rhyming books; make up rhyming word lists together
Dividing words into syllables : clap, stomp, jump & count syllables together and/or alone
Combining syllables into words : say syllables of words with pauses in between & ask your child to put them together to make the word; start with 2 syllables
Identifying words with the same beginning sound : help your child come up with a list of words with the same beginning sound (like in his/her name or favorite toy)
Identifying words with the same ending sound : help your child come up with a list of words with the same ending sound (like in his/her name or favorite toy)
Counting the individual sounds in words : start with a short word (dog) & divide the words, slowly, into its individual sounds (d…o…g); ask your child to count the different sounds
Identifying the different sounds in words : have your child choose a word, divide it into each sound, and repeat it to you
Blending individual sounds into words : say the separate sounds of a simple word (c….a….t) & ask your child to say the word
Manipulating sounds in words : remove the first letter of a word ( say the word “cup” without the “kah” sound); substitute letters in words (take off the “m” in “mop” & put in “t” to make the word……”top”)
Identifying the sounds each letter makes : reverse sound and letter (what letter has the sound “muh” / what sound does the letter “t” make); point out letters & print in books and everywhere
Click on Carrie Clark’s website link (speechandlanguagekids) found in the Speaking Skills section of “Encouraging Your Child’s Language Skills” for more tips & ideas.
I hope you found some useful Language Skill tips & strategies to help you & yours prepare for this eventful step in your family’s lives. Let me hear how you are ….
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