A Reading Code is the combination of letters that make their own sound. You may know these as multi-letter phonograms, diagraphs, trigraphs and quadgraphs.
We call these combinations of letters 'reading codes' to make it fun for our young readers. We encourage young readers to look for the reading codes and decide what sound it makes.
Why Teach the Reading Codes?
When we teach young readers the sounds of the reading codes, it allows them to decode with confidence.
Let's look at an example:
The reading code 'ch' makes 3 sounds:
- cherry (ch)
- chef (sh)
- school (k)
The challenge is we typically teach that 'ch' makes one sound, the sound found in cherry. We don't teach that 'ch' makes three sounds. So when a new reader approaches the word 'school' and they get it wrong, they are told it's an exception.
This impacts their trust in us and their confidence in themselves, especially when they are just doing what we taught them. We are setting our young readers up for failure right from the beginning.
We expect young readers to pick up on reading and spelling as they grow into developing readers. This might work for some, but unfortunately, many children fall through the cracks.
Let's give our young readers a consistent tool.
Learning the 3 sounds 'ch' can make will help when a young reader lands on words with 'ch' in it. They can now decide which 'ch' sound makes the most sense.
Knowing the sounds of the reading codes is by far the most consistent tool we can give our young readers. They can leverage this tool when they land on advanced, unknown words and decode the words with confidence and with logic. Of course, there are some exceptions, but we can teach those too!
The Reading Codes can help with spelling too!
A bonus of knowing the reading codes is that it also helps children learn to spell. Some children memorize words through sight, and when they write the word, they spell it incorrectly.
Think of the word 'head'. If a child didn't know that 'ea' made the sound found in 'head', they would spell it like 'hed'.
Knowing the reading codes is not only great for decoding (breaking words apart) but also for encoding (putting words together).
This is the reason knowing the Reading Codes is so powerful!