A few years ago, I made a goal of improving my ability to communicate in Spanish. As I struggled to memorize vocabulary, understand tenses, and make sense of endless rules, I felt astonished by my two-year-old son. Somehow he’d become a fluent English speaker with no formal instruction. He conjugated verbs, he had a vast vocabulary, and he seemed to understand almost everything. What’s more, learning a new language seemed to genuinely delight him. I, on the other hand, often felt burdened by it.

In retrospect, this shouldn’t have surprised me. When it comes to language, young children have a distinct advantage over the rest of the population. Their brains are far more receptive to it. Researchers believe that people are most able to easily learn their native language—as well as other languages—in the time before adolescence. How can educators support this window?

As you know,one crucial support is to offer developmentally appropriate curricula. If children (and adults) are presented with instruction that was designed to teach more experienced learners, they may lose interest in what’s being taught. In language arts, this can result in a child who is too frustrated to put forth the effort it takes to learn to read. Indeed, the Common Core State Standards have been criticized for demanding too much of kindergartners, especially when it comes to reading. Arguably, the majority of young children may develop their most useful literacy skills not by being instructed early, but simply by sitting in the lap of someone who shares the delight of reading wonderful books together.

However, even at a young age, certain students need extra help learning the language skills their peers are mastering. Most students enter kindergarten with the phonemic awareness skills they need to become readers in the future. Yet for about 25% of kindergartners, phonemic awareness isn’t clicking. They have trouble identifying the sounds in spoken words and can’t seem to crack the code on their own. Thankfully, it’s possible to provide phonemic awareness instruction to these students in an enjoyable and developmentally friendly way.

Funēmics was designed specifically for this purpose. The teacher guides the children's focus to the sounds of language with colorful art, not with letters or words. The program is totally grapheme-free.  The research-based lessons are centered on the interests and strengths of young children: song, rhyme, and word play. Because the instruction is fun, students gain phonemic awareness skills easily and without frustration. To them, the lessons are all about moving, tapping, clapping and singing. All the while, they’re positioning themselves, in a highly effective way, to become successful readers.

Educators have the difficult job of supporting students’ natural capacity to learn without overwhelming them. We at Read Naturally appreciate that this is a delicate balance, which is why we take great care to ensure we offer appropriate, research-based materials for students of all levels. We’re pleased to offer Funēmics to our youngest learners in need of an intervention—and we’re pleased to say that this intervention is as enjoyable as it is effective. Contact us to learn more about Funēmics, or click here to download a free sample.