One of the things children find difficult is when they meet a long word. How many times do you hear children sounding out every letter and not getting the word? Teach children how to chunk the words so that they read a bit at a time then put it together. What you are actually teaching is syllables. Children read one syllable and then the next syllable. It is good to practice this skill with compound words such as sunset, giftbox, sandpit, etc.
Last night I based my lesson around syllables. I wrote the word on a whiteboard and we looked at where the vowels are. In sunset there are two vowels. Ask the child to read around the first vowel to get 'sun' and then read around the next vowel to get 'set'. Then put them together to get sunset. It takes some practice but children soon begin to chunk when reading themselves. It might be a good idea to teach children which letters are vowels. There is the vowel rap from the old ELS scheme which has a nice rap. I use this for letter sounds and letter names. It goes:
aeiou that is how we say them
aeiou that is how we play them
We say them soft
We say them loud
of our vowels we sure are proud
that is how we say them
When teaching children how to write words with more than one syllable you must teach them about syllables first. Lots of practice and counting how many syllables there are in words. Either clap the syllables or get the child to put their hand under their chin as they say the word. Each time their chin touches their hand is a syllable. Try it! It works!
When spelling ask the child to say the word. How many syllables? Write the first syllable so for example in sunset there are two syllables. The child writes the first syllable 'sun' and then the second syllable 'set' to get the word 'sunset'. This really helps children with spelling.
Here is a photo of some polysyllabic words a child who is five year old was writing with me last night. She continued on the back of the white board with more words of her choice but I didn't take a photograph. She wrote oven, kitchen, pencil etc. It was as if a barrier had been opened. I am hoping for some lovely long words from her in the next few weeks. These words were totally her work I had no input what so ever apart from asking her to count the syllables, write the first syllable and write the second syllable.