Assessing Your Child’s Phonics Skills

CharactersChildren sometimes do well on reading tests in first or second grade because they are good at memorizing the visual appearance of words. You think they are doing fine!

However, when they get to third grade, they may start experiencing more difficulty because they encounter many more words that begin to look alike. If they have not learned to “sound-out” words using phonics skills, they will not be able to decode new words independently, and they may have more and more difficulty as reading becomes more complex. Guessing from context or pictures no longer works if there are too many gaps in a sentence to comprehend the overall meaning. If guessing becomes a strategy, children often begin to feel uncomfortable about reading, because they are not experiencing success. Their confidence lags, and their interest and curiosity can turn to frustration.

Nonsense Words

Try this simple test to assess whether a child is using phonics and knows how to sound-out new words. The words at the right are nonsense words. Cover the answers and ask the child to read the non-words on this page. The correct pronunciation is suggested in the parentheses. Listen carefully to the pronunciation. When children miss more than three, or take a long time to figure out each word, they need more practice with encoding and decoding words and non-words. The use of phonics should be automatic and unconscious, like riding a bicycle.

If you have our Read, Write & Type software, you can also insert the Spaceship Challenge CD, sign in as a GUEST, and ask children to play Level 2. If they have difficulty naming the pictures and identifying the sounds, or if they do poorly on reading comprehension or spelling, they will benefit from support with the extra activities and games suggested in the day-to-day lessons from our Read, Write & Type activity book. Download it for free on our website, and try practicing with your child today.

To download the activity book in PDF format, look for the link on our website, it’s number 7 on the list of “Read, Write & Type Learning System (RWTLS) PDF Documents”.


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