Monday, January 16, 2017

Enriching Education: Play and Reading

I recently had a chance to interview Ruth Rumack, creator of Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space and the Alpha-Mania Adventure Series, books designed to increase phonological awareness through interactive reading.

1. Can you explain what phonological awareness is?
Phonological awareness is the understanding that words are made up of parts and individual sounds. When children can hear sounds within words and are able to play with and manipulate those sounds, it gets them ready for later literacy skills, such as sounding words out and learning to spell. Strong phonological awareness involves five key auditory skills: rhyming, blending, segmenting, alliteration, and sound manipulation.

2. Why is it important that children possess this skill?
Research proves that children who enter kindergarten with strong phonological awareness learn to read more quickly than their peers without these skills. Phonological awareness lays the foundation that puts children on the path to future reading success!

3. What are the benefits of your educational series Alpha-Mania Adventures?
Alpha-Mania Adventures combines a fun and exciting story with important early reading skills in a way that is unparalleled. Each of the five books is dedicated to a different one of the five key phonological awareness skills, so children learn about rhyming, blending, alliteration, segmenting, and sound manipulation while engrossed in a pirate story full of memorable and amusing characters. The books are also interactive, featuring a phonics activity hidden within the colorful illustrations. At the end of the books, bonus activities on phonological awareness, phonics, and letter formation help parents further reinforce the skills.

4. What are the benefits of playtime when learning to read?
Learning a new skill can be difficult, so the more the process is infused with fun, the more the child will enjoy the experience. If the experience is fun and positive, the child stays more engaged, retains more information, and is more likely to keep coming back for more!

5. How do you help children who may have learning disabilities when learning to read? Any tips you can provide parents with?
Teaching phonological awareness to a child with a learning difference is much easier when done in small steps. Don’t try to do too much at once. Practice one skill, such as rhyming, until it is mastered, then move on to more difficult skills like blending or segmenting.

Choose books that interest your child. This will go a long way towards keeping their attention and keeping them motivated.

Remember that learning moments for children with learning disabilities might be less conventional. Car rides, playing at the park, meal times, bath time, and getting ready for bed can be excellent opportunities to sneak in a quick game on alliteration or sound manipulation.  

6. Where can parents and educators find information about Alpha-Mania Adventures?
You can find more information about Alpha-Mania Adventures on our website: You’ll also find lots of helpful information about learning to read, phonological awareness, and phonics.


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