Are you struggling to help your child understand how to read? There are many things that you can do to help encourage literacy, one of which includes teaching your child word families.
Word families are the grouping of common letters into similar word lists. In short, if your child understands the word family, they’ll be able to understand a list of words with the word family in common.
This guide will not only explain the various word families in the English language but also give you tips and tricks on how to increase reading comprehension.
What are Word Families?
A word family is a group of letters that are combined to make a specific sound. For example, -ack, -am-, and -at are all word families.
The purpose of understanding a word family is the notion that if you can identify one word, you should be able to identify many others with the common word family. So, if your child can sound out “back,” then they should easily be able to sound out “smack, tack, and rack” as well.
This is also the foundation of understanding how words work together to create a rhyme. Since these words all sound the same, you can combine them to make them have the same flow and rhyme scheme.
Word families increase with difficulty as children age. The first world families that are taught are generally simple, like “at” (for “cat, bat, and sat”). As children age, they will be asked to identify more complex word families like “ain” (or “rain, refrain, and stain”).
Word families and sight words work together to help children learn how to read. All of these words are high-frequency words, which means that children will see them often. When children can identify them quickly and easily, they can become more persuasive writers.
According to Wylie and Durrell, there are 37 common word families in the English language. In actuality, there are many more than 37, but these are the highest frequency words.
Many popular nursery rhymes include these 37 word families. They are simple because each letter is pronounced the way it should be. The only time that words are not pronounced as they are spelled is in the event of two vowels being next to each other. When you encounter one of these two-vowel words (like rain), the rule is to pronounce the first vowel only.
Below is a list of examples for each of the 37 most popular word families.
Tips and Tricks for Teaching Reading
When beginning to teach your child to read, you will want to blend information from word families and sight words to help your child start identifying words.
To do this, pick a list of words that matches their age-level and start practicing those words only. When your child can identify these words in a text, it means that they are beginning to see the patterns and identify those high-frequency words in writing.
When you begin teaching word families, start with one of the easier ones first, like am. Once they can identify am, sound it out, and find words that end in am, move to a more complicated word.
Once your child understands how to form these word families into actual words, they will be able to spell and read them!
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My daughter loves to build things with Magnatiles. She will grab all of the tiles and construct fantastic castles, homes, and more with the simple building tools. But what happens when she builds a weak base? We all know. It can’t stand, it’s not steady, and it falls.
Learning how to read can kind of be similar to building a weak structure. Identifying something as simple as a word family seems like a mindless activity for us. Still, for kids, it’s necessary to understand the increasingly tricky skills that kids learn for reading comprehension.
Taking the time to learn word families will help them identify words more quickly and spell with more accuracy. This list of 37 high-frequency word families is a great place to start, but once your child masters it, consider researching more challenging word families to increase comprehension!