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Hello – I’m Leigh Parlor. It’s wonderful to have you visit!
I’m super happy to have this website to share with you! How children learn to read is my main area of interest (maybe obsession!) and I can’t wait to share the basics of reading with you! I am a classroom teacher and literacy specialist who really values learning and education.
The two main focus areas of The Education Clinic are:
Beginning Reading – How to help children from 0-3 years of age develop essential pre-reading skills.
Learning To Read – How to help children from  4-7 years of age learn to read.
Topics that I will cover during 2016 will be:
Learning the Letters and Sounds
• Books to Read
• Sight Words
• Phonological Awareness
• Vocabulary
• Fluency
• Reading Aloud
• Comprehension
and whatever else tickles my fancy!
Thank you for joining me. I would love to hear from you so feel free to email me  or join me on Twitter.
Happy Learning!

[email protected]



Hello Everyone!

s in sand

We have been looking at different ways children can explore the alphabet. These ideas can be used at home or in the classroom.

Before children start to read the words on the page, it is a great idea to just let them explore, play and have fun with letters. Some children pick up the letter names and sounds just by seeing them in their everyday world.


The first strategy shared was ‘Have a Variety of Alphabet Objects Available For Your Child To Look At And Play With’. Click here to read this post.


This post focuses on Strategy Two:

Exploring The Shape of Letters

trace and splash 1



Many children learn through touching, feeling, playing and creating. Explore the shape of letters by:


• Writing letters in the sand

• Decorating letter outlines – if you use interesting materials your child can trace their fingers over the top. Place all of these in a file and have a touchy alphabet!

• Painting the letters

• Tracing letters

• Making the shapes of letters in water with your fingers

• Using shaving cream to write letters

• Feeling shapes of letters cut out from sand paper


Many of the above activities relate to the writing of letters as well as reading them. These are all ways of exploring letters. By exploring letters in a variety of ways, your child has more experience with them. Hands on, active experiences are also a fun way of learning!


I hope you can try one of these ideas this week! Let me know how you go.

Happy Learning!




Great Reading Foundations Part Two



There are many skills required for children to become successful readers. One essential pre-reading skill I love covering with my students is Phonological Awareness. Don’t be scared off by the fancy name!


Phonological Awareness (or PA) is being able to ‘attend’ to the sounds in words. PA is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate (play with) the sounds in words. It includes things like rhyming, syllables and hearing the first sound in words. And it’s great to do with your child – it doesn’t need any major resources and it can be practised anywhere!


Phonological Awareness is often assessed in the very early years of school.  Some educators believe that a child’s PA ability can indicate how they may go with learning to formally read later on down the track.  It seems that children with good PA skills generally have more success at learning to read than those who don’t have sound PA skills.


Some ask ‘How on earth can you predict how a child’s going to go with learning to read at such a young age?’ This is a valid question. The way that I see it is reading is all about the letter symbol, the sound it makes and what it sounds like when you put them all together to make a word. So if a child is struggling to hear the sounds, chances are they may have difficulties when they have to match sounds to letters. It becomes an even harder task for the strugglers.


The great thing about PA is that it can be done verbally. So you can practise it whenever you have a spare few minutes!


How Can You Help Your Child Develop Phonological Awareness Skills?

bear and chair


1. Practise Listening

Phonological Awareness relies heavily on listening. To practise listening try:

• Laying down outside or on the floor and listening to environmental sounds. Listen for the birds, traffic, fans or leaves rustling in the wind.

• Giving your child fun, verbal instructions. Start with two things, then keep adding. For example, “You need to clap your hands twice then sit on the ground’.

• Ask your child to close their eyes and see if the can work out certain sounds – for example the tearing of paper, a door closing or using a stapler.


2. Practise Hearing Sounds In Words

• When reading to your child really exaggerate the sounds in the words.

• When saying words to your child, ask them ‘What sound is at the beginning of cat?’ or ‘ What sound is at the end of hop?’



3. Participate In Rhyming Activities

• Read and repeat lots of nursery rhymes, chants and action songs.

• Read stories with rhyming text.

• Play games with word families –‘How many words can we think of that have ‘an’ at the end like ban, can and fan.



4. Syllable Play

• Clap the syllables in your child’s name.

• Count how many ‘beats’ are in different words.



5. Alliteration

• Make up sentences that have lots of words starting with the same sound – Super Sally sent seven strawberries.



Other quick ideas to help develop phonological awareness

• Play ‘I Spy’

• Guess the sound out word – ‘What is this word – c-a-t?’

• Talk about compound words – ‘What two words make up butterfly?’

• Exaggerate first and final sounds when reading to your child

• Play matching games. Search magazines and cut out all the pictures that start or finish with a certain sound

• Do activities that emphasize certain sounds eg. cook six sizzling sausages

I hope these fun ideas give you a starting point to help you develop your child’s Phonological Awareness skills. There are many more activities you can do, but these are a useful starting point!

Happy Learning!


This article was written by Leigh Parlor and is the second of seven in the ‘Great Reading Foundations’ series for Beginning Readers. To view the first article on Building Vocabulary click here.