Encoding strategies enable the development of writing and spelling capabilities. Decoding strategies are techniques that help students to develop reading capabilities. Encoding and decoding skills have a common base, starting with phonological awareness and understanding of phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of speech, and groups of phonemes form words when strung together. Beyond that, parents and teachers can help children learn to read and write by using certain techniques.
Common Base: Syllable Awareness
Children start off by learning that words are made up of smaller units of sound, such as syllables. This is known as phonological awareness. For instance, the word "bat" has one syllable and the word "sofa" has two syllables. Next, they learn to distinguish between the beginning of a syllable and the end of a syllable. In the word "bat," for example, “b” is the start of the syllable and the letters “at” form the end of the syllable.
Common Base: Sound Awareness
Another aspect to developing literacy skills is phonemic awareness, or awareness of the sounds of words. For instance, the words “bat” and “bit” differ only by one letter sound. Children who develop phonemic awareness know how to break down words based on the different sounds they represent. Those who don’t develop this awareness will find it harder to read and write.
Decoding strategies help children think as they learn to read. One such strategy is to ask children to picture the story as they read. They can also look at pictures that accompany text to get an idea about the story. Encouraging children to ask questions about the context of the material will help them better comprehend what they read. If they can’t understand what they read, they should ask an adult about it. Another technique is for children to develop their reading skills by making inferences as they read. The use of riddles and jokes can help children develop their inference skills.
Tools such as dictionaries help children improve their spelling and writing skills. Spelling aids help too. Children can also develop their writing skills by writing a word and then checking to see if it is right. Adults can use analogies to words that the child knows to help him learn a new word. Developing a knowledge of root words is another way to develop spelling and writing skills.