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70 Months Milestone

The difference between pitter and patter

Five-year-olds can listen to two musical notes and say whether they were the same, or whether the second note was higher or lower than the first. They can also repeat five digits in the correct order, and they can learn to repeat sentences of six to 10 words.

8 mins to read Feb 8, 2022

Your child can now retell a simple story of five to six sentences with some detail directly after hearing it for the first time.

If you produce three everyday sounds in random order, for example cough, knock on the table and clap your hands, your child should be able to reproduce these sounds in the same order.

Produce any three sounds, similar to those above, and name one. Ask whether it was the first sound, middle sound or last sound.

Clap a simple rhythm and let your child copy the rhythm.

Learn more about developing phonological skills in your child.

Teach your child to clap the syllables of words

Learning to speak is a natural process that is wired into our DNA. In contrast, using an alphabetic system to represent spoken language is a cultural invention. Learning to read and write is not instinctive, and this is why it is difficult to learn. 

The original function of the phonological processor in the human brain is to help us differentiate words. Learning to use it for paying attention to the distinct sounds inside words is an acquired skill. 

Letters are symbols that people use to represent speech sounds. Consequently, children find it difficult to read if they cannot identify the sound blocks in words.

Pre-school children live in a world of concrete sensory experiences and learning to read, write and do mathematics requires that they transition into a world of abstract ideas and symbols. You can help your child to make the connection by saying, “We need to find the sound at the beginning of a word so that we can know which letter to write first when we need to write that word.” 

Ten ways to build phonological awareness:

  1.  Play with words that rhyme

Teach as many rhymes and songs as possible and repeat them often. Play games with rhyming words and match them. 

  1. Clap the words in a sentence

Explain the difference between a sentence and a word. When you teach your child to clap the words in a sentence, use only single-syllable words, for example, “Dogs have long tails = clap-clap-clap-clap.”

  1. Clap each syllable of a word

For example: A – man – da = clap – clap – clap

  1. Listen for the first (and later also the last) sound in a word

Make sure to say the sound that you hear and not the name of the letter, for example, “Bag starts with buh” and not “Bag starts with bee.”

  1. Break words into the first sound and the rest of the word

Example: p … ot and f … isherman

  1. Break words into sound blocks (phonemes) and ask your child to put them together

Example: “I’m going to say a word super slowly. What word do you hear? c…a…r “

  1. Ask your child to break a word into sound blocks and then count them

Point to a picture and say: “Can you say this word super slowly? How many sound blocks do you hear?” Examples: car (3), books (4), and fish (3).

  1. Ask them whether he hears a certain sound in a word.

Example: “Do you hear /sss/ in the word ‘bag’?”

  1. Ask them to change one sound in a word to create a new word. 

Example: “What is the word ‘cat’ when it starts with mmm?” (mat)

  1. Ask them to leave off one sound to create a new word.

Example: “What is the word ‘block’ without the buh?” (lock)

The goal is to reach the level where your child is able to manipulate (play with) the distinct sounds within simple words. 

Tip: The wonderful world of books

When we set aside a special time every day for reading a children’s book out loud to our children, we are sharing a glimpse into the outside world with them. We inspire them to want to learn to read as well as we can, and building their vocabulary at the same time.

Researchers say there are far more scarce words in children’s books than what a child can expect to hear in normal conversation or on television. Even though your child will soon learn to read, you will continue to be the more proficient reader for a long time. There’s a world of books out there that your child can still learn from, so keep reading to them. 

Source Hayes, D.P., “Speaking and Writing: Distinct Patterns of Word Choice”, Journal of Memory and Language, Volume 27, p 572-585, (1988).