Getting Silly with Syllables – How to Prepare Your Child to Learn How to Read

Child reading with parent

Step 1

Remind yourself you’re a great parent, and no matter what you do, chances are your child will be able to read just fine.

Step 2

Read my blog below.

Step 3

Keep having fun with your kids and language!! That’s it, only 3 steps. 

Step 2.1 - Read my Introduction

Do you joke around with your kid? Do you sing with them? Do you read to them? Do you use LEGO to represent different parts of compound words and then put them together? Neither do I. But I like the idea.

Some of the things we do naturally as parents show up in recommendations we see online about parenting and sometimes we find new ideas. We can choose to use those ideas or not, but at least we’re aware of them. That’s why when I read an article about phonological awareness on it got me thinking of the things I already do with my three year old and what I might want to do better. 

Step 2.2 – Read to your little one

I don’t remember my parents reading that much to me growing up. To be honest, when I would see kids in movies have story time before bed, I thought it was a little out of the ordinary. Despite not having bedtime stories growing up, I can read just fine (remember Step 1 above?).

With my daughter, however, things are a little different. Reading bedtime stories became a habit, one that I enjoy. We read all kinds of books in French, English and even Spanish. My wife is the Spanish speaking one, but I’ve been picking up some Spanish as well just by reading to our daughter.

The article I mentioned gives some great tips on really pronouncing each sound and syllable and showing your kid how different words rhyme. I do this to some extent, but I also like to let my daughter take the lead sometimes.

Think back to when you were a kid. What was your favourite part of a book? The pictures. Thankfully, children’s books are chalk full of pictures. My daughter knows that she can interrupt me at anytime if she finds an illustration more interesting than my diction. In one book, she stops me at every page, finds each butterfly and says the word in Spanish: “mariposa, mariposa, mariposa, mariposa”. This ritual started after we broke the word down into syllables, ma-ri-po-sa, and helped her put them together. 

Step 2.1 – Sing and Rhyme with your little one

I married into quite a musical family, so this is where my daughter and our family shine. My wife and her mother, sister and brother are all singers. My daughter’s great-grandfather composed and taught music at university in Colombia.

Even on my side of the family, my dad composed music and my mom has taken up ukulele in her retirement. Although I wasn’t hit with the music stick, I like to carry a tune off-key.

All this to say that we like to sing, and thankfully it turns out that the rhyming in songs builds phonological awareness which preps little ones getting ready to learn to read.  

While we have fun with classic nursery rhymes like “Down by the Bay” and “Apples and Bananas”, we also like to dabble in family originals. In this category, I have to give a shout-out to my daughter’s Tia (Aunt) Diana who composed a sweet, simple, and short tune for her:

Kalia Melina es una niña muy linda
Todos los días le damos besitos
En las manitos y en los piesitos
Kalia Melina, ¡es una niña muy linda!


In English, this translates loosely to:

Kalia Melina is the nicest girl
Every day we give her kisses
On her little hands and on her little feet
Kalia Melina is the nicest girl!


The rhyming is lost in the translation, but you get the idea. Songs contain rhyme and rhythm that help littles learn language in a fun way. 

Step 2.3 – Play Games with Sounds, Syllables and Rhymes

The article has some great examples of games you can play like ‘I Spy’ and crafts you can do with your kids in ways that will help them learn sounds and syllables. While I’ve always only played “I spy” using colours, I’ll definitely be trying out’s version:

“Guessing games such as “I spy” can be used to work on almost any phonological skill. Want to practice noticing what sounds words begin with? Try “I spy something red that starts with /s/.””

Sometimes playtime with kids doesn’t have to make sense for them to learn something. My daughter invented a game where she says two random syllables, waits for me to repeat them, then laughs her head off and repeats this sequence with the same two syllables or new ones over and over again. By the end, we’re laughing so hard that we can’t pronounce any syllables. At the least, we’ve learned that syllables are hi-la-ri-ous. 

Step 2.4 – Read the Conclusion

After reading and thinking about the article, I’m equipped with some new tools to help develop my kids’ phonological awareness. It made me think of new ways to read, sing, and play with my kids.

Kids like to play. I think that kids understand play better than adults do. If I had to add anything to the article it would be that sometimes I like to let my kid take the lead or let her ask the questions. Check out our blog, Keep the Conversation Going; Ask Your Child Fewer Questions During Playtime, to learn how to do this and thanks for reading! 😊

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