Teaching Kids How to Read Using Word Family Lessons

One of the most effective ways to teach kids how to read is by using word family lessons. Does your child have difficulty figuring out how to sound out words? If so, you may be asking how do I help my child become a good reader? The first thing we as educators must do is teach the letter sounds and make sure that they know them without hesitation before we move to the next step. The letter sounds should be introduced one letter per week along with an array of activities to use during the learning process. We continue to reinforce the letter sounds every day even after we have finished with a particular letter. Many times we have so many mandates required that we are unable to spend as much time on basic letter sounds as we should. Therefore, extra reinforcement after school hours is crucial in any new subject matter.

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Word family lessons are one of the most popular methods for teaching reading. So what is a word family? A word family is a group of words that have a pattern with the same combination of letters in them and they usually rhyme. Dr. Seuss books are great examples of word families. For example: Cat, hat, sat. Nursery Rhymes are also loaded with word families. Notice that they all rhyme. Here’s one that you might remember.

Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such a sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Look how many words rhyme: Diddle, fiddle, spoon, and moon. This is just one example. Pick up a Dr. Seuss book from your bookstore or local library and you’ll see lots of word families in every book.

For example, check out “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. In this book when the character is asking would you like green eggs and ham in a boat, would you like them with a goat, would you like them here or there? Look for the rhymes. Those are all word families. Notice the combination of words that usually rhyme with the same pattern. Common word family lessons that you can use from this book involve taking the word family that I am working on for that week and finding every page with that word family in it and then having the student break down the word and learn each word family this way. Word family lessons are very important but it’s essential to have extra reinforcement outside of the classroom.

The examples that I have given of word family lessons are a great way to help a beginning reader. Word families are effective ways to have student memorize the words, how they look and it will make it easier for them to learn how to spell them too! They can sound them out after memorizing the rhyme. One word family per week is a general guideline for this age group.

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