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What to Teach After 3-Letter Words and How to Master Reading Fluency

How can your emerging reader confidently make the leap from sounding out simple consonant-vowel-consonant words to fluently stringing sentences together in a story? In this post, we talked about the importance of creating the ideal foundation of literacy skills necessary for reading success. Now that those main skills have been mastered, moving to the next phase of more difficult concepts will be an easier feat for your reader.

Start Up with Sight Words

Once your reader is prepared for more difficult phonics topics, it is also great to begin including sight words and high-frequency words in daily practice. There are many lists available for increasing levels of reading, but I have used the Fry's lists for many years, even with my kindergarten students when I was teaching in the classroom.

If you are looking for a way to incorporate sight word practice in your weekly learning, I highly suggest a way to refer back to the words, such as posting them to review or putting them in your child's library. You can find our favorite way to learn and reinforce sight words with this wearable resource!

Explore the Magic of Vowels

We know that the English language can be an interesting topic to learn let alone teach. My son asked me why o-f spells of, but o-f-f spells off and I couldn't think of a response suitable for his liking ...because, well there really isn't a true explanation! The same feeling comes over me when talking about and teaching vowels, but I have tried to talk my learner into just going with it.

Long Vowels and Silent E

When beginning to associate letter forms with letter names and sounds, the vowels are matched with one sound. This will make the next steps interesting for your learner, as now vowels will have more than 1 possible sound in a word, making the options of what the word is bigger.

This may be intimidating for your young reader in the beginning, but practice and exposure will support these new ideas and with practice will become automatic.

Using magnetic letters, blocks, or any letter representation that your child can physically use and move around to manipulate letters will skyrocket his or her understanding of spelling and sounding out words.

By moving around letters to change the word or adding an -e to the end is a good way to practice new skills and encourage your reader to continue finding solutions!

For example, have your child spell pal. Ask your child how to change the word pal to say pale. Repeating similar activities will reinforce previous skills and practice newly acquired ideas of phonics.

Following long vowels, smoothly transition to introducing common vowel teams: ai, ea, oa, ou, etc.

To practice these after each has been introduced, sorting activities and picture matches are perfect! Be on the look out for a new resource just like this coming soon!

Prefixes and Suffixes

Most often, your early reader will run in to groups of letters at the beginning and end of a word that change the definition or context. Commonly, your learner will run into prefixes such as un- and suffixes like -ing, as in unfair and playing.

Understanding the meaning of the prefixes and suffixes will ultimately help your child segment unfamiliar words and decipher their meaning easily. Imagine the tools your emerging reader will feel equipped to use when reading and expanding his or her vocabulary with confidence.

To get a snapshot of skills aligned to traditional grades and reading levels, click the chart (left). This includes frequently seen words and comprehension skills important to progressing to the next level!

Understand how to best bridge gaps for your learner and encourage them in reading excellence moving forward!



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I taught in the classroom for five years before joining the educator support crew.

Now I'm homeschooling my son while growing alongside other parents and teachers.

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