School Readiness: Standards Saturday

I’ve decided to focus my Saturday blog post on school readiness standards and benchmarks.  I will reference from which city, county, school, etc. I took the standard, although I’m sure the standards exist in most schools these days.

Today’s standard is:  Listens and speaks for specific reasons.  This is a kindergarten standard taken from Fairfax County Public Schools.  Fairfax County is located in Virginia, just outside Washington, DC.  Because the standard “Listens and speaks for specific reasons” is a broad area to talk about, I will discuss the benchmark “Segment one-syllable words into speech sound units.”  This is a benchmark, or a point of reference, that is measured in order to measure progress on meeting the standard.

Segmenting a word, or breaking the word down into its parts sound-by-sound, is a crucial school skill.  For example, being able to break down the word “bog” into its parts “B – O – G” is necessary for learning to read, acquiring curricular and novel vocabulary words, and developing writing and spelling skills.  To segment a one-syllable word into its speech sound units, a child must be able to process the individual sounds heard accurately, maintain the the sequence of the sounds in the order they were said, store the sounds briefly in the “auditory loop” (i.e., 2 seconds worth of information that can be held briefly after it is heard, similar to sounds recorded on a “tape”), and “refresh” the sounds in the word or the entire word itself in the auditory loop, so that the child can keep operating on breaking down the sounds within the word.

The following is a list of activities that can be used to build the foundational skills with a child from 0-36 months, so that a child will be ready to work on this benchmark once he is in school as well as present with rapid and solid progress on the benchmark.  According to an article “Infant Word Segmentation:  a basic review,” by Morgan Sonderegger (http://people.linguistics.mcgill.ca/~morgan/segReview.pdf), babies skills for segmenting develop gradually over the first year of life.   Therefore, the activities are meant to be used with babies aged 0-12 months, but can also be used beyond the first year.

  1. Babble (e.g., Say: ma-ma-ma, bo-bo-bo) while child is looking at you
  2. Allow child to watch your face as you say one-syllable words, such as “ball” or “cat”
  3. Say one-syllable words to one side of child’s head (either on the left or on the right).  Child will turn his head towards you.
  4. Say a short word (e.g., hop, tip, map, dog, sled, cats, mine, etc.). Break down the word into its parts (e.g., h-o-p, s-l-e-d, etc.), saying each sound slowly and clearly.  Repeat the word as you said it first, without segmenting it.
  5. Say a short word (e.g., hop, tip, map, dog, sled, cats, mine, etc.). Break down the word into its parts (e.g., h-o-p, s-l-e-d, etc.), saying each sound slowly and clearly.  In between sounds, give baby a kiss (e.g., d- kiss – o- kiss- g).  Repeat the word as you said it first, without segmenting it.
  6. Say a short word (e.g., hop, tip, map, dog, sled, cats, mine, etc.). Break down the word into its parts (e.g., h-o-p, s-l-e-d, etc.), saying each sound slowly and clearly and clapping for each sound you say.   Repeat the word as you said it first, without segmenting it.
  7. Stretch out sounds in words occasionally.  For example, if you are talking with child about wanting another bottle, tell him “Oh, you want more mmmmmilk?”  Or, tell baby “I see the trrrrruck.”
  8. When baby is seated in a chair with a tray, place 3 blocks or toys on the tray.  After you say a short, 3-letter word, point to each of the blocks/toys while you say each sound in the word.  That is, if you are saying the word “cat,” point to one block for the “c,” one block for the “a” sound in “cat,” and one block for the “t.”  Some 3-letter words to say and point with are:  cup, dog, hat, mop, tip, bet, leg, lid, him, mine, cake, rake, book, loop, soup, phone, team, soap.
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