The central goal of the Children Learning Reading program is to help your child learn to decode printed text quickly and learn to read fluently through the critical process of developing phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is arguably one of the most important aspects of learning to read, and becoming a fluent reader. Children who lack phonemic awareness typically have reading difficulties, and end up being poor readers. Jim & Elena's Children Learning Reading program is an extremely simple, straight forward, and step-by-step program. Their program includes simple exercises and practices starting with the very first lessons that work to help your child develop phonemic awareness, and learn to read. Clinical studies, and even the National Reading Panel has stated that helping children develop phonemic awareness is one of the most effective ways to teach children to read.
Phonemic Awareness is defined as the ability to identify, hear, and work with the smallest units of sound known as phonemes. It is NOT the same as phonological awareness, instead, it is a sub-category of phonological awareness. For example, phonemic awareness is narrow and deals only with phonemes and manipulating the individual sounds of words - such as /c/, /a/, and /t/ are the individual sounds that make up to form the word "cat". Phonological awareness, on the other hand, includes the phonemic awareness ability, and it also includes the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate larger units of sound such as rimes and onsets.
Phonemic awareness can be taught very early on and will play a critical role in helping children learn to read and spell. While it's not set in stone on when a child can learn to read, however, I do believe that a child that can speak is a child that can learn to read. Children as young as two years old can learn to read by developing phonemic awareness, and they can learn to read fluently. Please see a video of a 2-year old (2yr11months) reading below.
Below are several of the most common phonemic awareness skills that are often practiced with students and young children:
Being able to orally blend and segment words helps children to read and spell. According to the National Reading Panel, oral blending helps children develop reading skills where printed letters are turned into sounds which combine to form words. Additionally, word segmenting helps children breakdown words into their sounds (phonemes) and helps children learn to spell unfamiliar words.
As a young child begins to develop and master phonemic awareness skills, they will discover an entirely new world in print and reading. You will open up their world to a whole new dimension of fun and silliness. They will be able to read books that they enjoy, develop a better understanding of the world around them through printed materials, and have a whole lot of fun by making up new nonsense words through phonemic substitutions.
For example, we taught our daughter to read at a young age - when she was a little over 2 and a half years old. Before she turned three, she would run around the house saying all types of silly words using phonemic substitution. One of her favorites was substituting the letter sound /d/ in "daddy" with the letter sound /n/. So, she would run around me in circles and repeatedly say "nanny, nanny, come do this" or "nanny, nanny, come play with me" etc... Of course, she only did this when she wanted to be silly and to make me laugh, at other times, she would of course properly refer to me as "daddy", and not "nanny". She is well aware of the differences between these words and is fully capable of using phonemic substitution to change any of the letters in the words to make other words.