readingChunking may sound like a term more applicable to a music class, but it's actually a concept that can help your child learn to read. Breaking words down into chunks makes them easier to recognize and sound out.

Simple words such as "dog" are easy to read because each letter is pronounced as is. However, the English language is structured so that different combinations of letters blend together for different sounds. For instance, a child would never be able to figure out how to read the word "laugh" by sounding out each letter individually.

With chunking your child learns to recognize various letter combinations and use them to figure out the pronunciation. As an example, the word "blend" contains the combinations "bl" and "end" that will be familiar from many other words. Have your child look for those parts and put them together. Even if he or she knows only one part of a word, it's a good base from which to figure out the rest.

Prefixes such as "pre", "un" and "re", along with suffixes such as "ing", "ed" and "es" are some of the better chunks to begin with since they have such a high occurrence. You can also make it more fun with games. Have your child use fingers to block out the chunks they immediately recognize, and then work out the other ones. Try "I Spy" where you might see the word "chair" in a book and say, "I spy the word 'air'" and let your child find the full word. 

Getting an early start on reading skills is a good preparation for entering kindergarten. Our Childcare and Preschool Program in Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties is staffed with qualified teachers who will help your child get ready socially and academically to begin school.