Helping Young Children Learn to Pronounce Words

Part of learning to read is learning to recognize and pronounce words. Older preschoolers and kindergartners start recognizing simple, familiar words, such as their name. They soon learn to recognize other common words, such as “dog,” “bird” and “cat.” This is often called “sight reading,” whereby children come to recognize words by remembering the pattern of the letters.

Children can also learn to pronounce new words by trying to sound them out. They can figure out how to pronounce words by breaking the word down into the different parts. For instance, the word dog can be broken down into “d” “o” “g.”

Here are some ways child care providers help children learn to pronounce words:

  • Help them say words correctly if they mispronounce them, but do it matter-of-factly, not scolding.
  • Have them point to words and say them out loud.
  • Have them sound out the letters in words.
  • Help them break larger words into smaller sounds, such as “c-a-t.”
  • Have them look for words in stories, such as “the” or “and.”
  • With older children, play spelling and word games like Scrabble and Hang Man

For More Information

To learn more about how child care providers can encourage language development in young children, check out the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: