The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
Good Practices:
Developing a Foundation for Reading
Mother and Child Reading
Working with Your Child: 
Steps to Building Reading Success 

Modified from Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.



Early good practices enrich learning and develop a foundation for later reading.  Try these reading-readiness steps to engage with your child.   They're fun to do!


  • Speak directly to your child.  Speak slowly and clearly, pronouncing each sound very carefully; you want him to notice each word or word part you say.

  • Exaggerate sounds—for example, mmmman—and have him do the same when he repeats back to you.

  • Read to your child daily.

  • Play rhyming games (example:  have him pick objects that rhyme with a common word—selecting a shoe for a word that rhymes with “two.”)

  • Make up your own jingles, rhymes, or silly stories to highlight a particular sound, or even sing a song together.  Funny and visually absurd rhymes and alliterations often work best in making a sound more salient to the child.  To highlight the “ssss” sound, for example, sing with him, “Sally sells seashells at the seashore.”

  • Use concrete objects (blocks or coins) to represent the sounds in words.  Your child should indicate how many sounds he hears in a word by the number of coins (or blocks) he places on the table.  For example, for the two-phoneme word zoo, he would say each sound (“zzzz” “oo”) as he lays out first one and then a second coin. 
    (See illustration below.)
Illustration (c) Overcoming Dyslexia. Shaywitz, S.E. 2003
Helping Your Child Count Phonemes in Words
As your child pronounces each sound in a word, such as "zoo," he puts coins in the center of the table.



These games will enrich and help your child develop the foundation for later reading.  Activities should be short and enjoyable.  You want your child’s involvement.  When you have it, he is paying attention, and learning is going on.  If he is not interested, let it go.  Little is accomplished if he sits there passively with your talking at him.  Try to do these activities when both you and he are alert and in a good mood.

Read More:  The A to Z of Teaching Beginning Reading