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Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Time for a Rhyme

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Children learn how to talk instinctively. It is a natural process. It occurs through interaction with family members, caregivers, or even playmates. However, this is not the case with reading. Reading must be learned.

Learning to read combines visual and auditory skills. For example, as a child recognizes a sound, he or she should start to visually associate that sound with the appropriate letter.

Where does a parent, as their child's first teacher, begin this "learning to read" process?

Reading aloud to your child is essential! The more you read to children, the more sounds they will hear. The more sounds children hear and distinguish, the better they listen. And, the better they listen, the quicker they will learn to associate those sounds with the printed word! It's all about building skills in logical sequence.

Hearing sounds in spoken language is called "Phonemic Awareness." It is a critical pre-reading skill. A great way to practice "Phonemic Awareness" is to have your child listen to, and identify rhymes.

Get out those old "Mother Goose" books and read lots of Nursery Rhymes to your child! Some rhymes that children love are: "Little Miss Muffet," "Jack and Jill," "Hey Diddle Diddle," "Hickory, Dickory Dock," "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and any others that might appeal to your child, or ones that you loved hearing when you were a child.

Have some fun with them! "Act out" a rhyme, or substitute your child's name in the rhyme. (Mike be nimble, Mike be quick, Mike jump over the candlestick!)

Or, change the action. (Jack and Jill went down the hill...) Be as creative as imaginable. Your child will never tire of hearing you read these classics!

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?