Word Decoding Strategies in Reading for Kids

Word decoding is the ability to put your knowledge of letters and sounds into use by correctly pronouncing words. This is highly beneficial for children as it gives the ability to them to figure out words they did not even know before. In the beginning, kids might not like reading or find it boring sometimes. 

They might even encounter problems like being stuck, feeling tired, not knowing what it means or even how it sounds. In such cases, teachers and parents can help them out with the help of word decoding strategies. So, here are some of the most useful word decoding strategies for kids put together!

1. Spelling Practice

This is one of the most basic and effective ways to improve word decoding for kids. Figuring the spelling of a word is useful as it improves cognitive functioning. Spelling practice can be made fun with the help of images and phonic symbols. This is further broken down into simple steps below.

  • When a word is there on a spelling chart, ask the child to look at the word and figure it out letter by letter and understand the syllables in it with their respective sounds.
  • After a thorough analysis of the word, the child must practice air writing and pronunciation of the word letter by letter.
  • Now the child will slowly be able to write the word by saying it.
  • This is a slow process and there will be certain mistakes while practising. You can always keep track of it and help them out.

2. Air Writing

Air writing is simply writing words with the help of your finger in the air in an imaginary way. Asking children to practice air writing will definitely work out and it is also one of the best decoding strategies for kids. Air writing will help the kid in imagining the word with extreme detail like the first uppercase letter and the following lowercase letters. This will also help them remember words. 

As a mentor for them, you can start by asking them to write simpler words, then move on and writing 2-3 words in the air. You can show them a letter for a few seconds and after that you can ask them to write the letter in the air.

3. Matching Activities

With the help of images, you can make fun activities for children where they have to match a word with its sound. This is a really simple step and it acts as a building block for kids to learn and memorize new words. You can begin by using just single letters, and you can raise the bar once the child is getting habituated. 

For example, you can show a kid the word ‘dog’. Once you show the word, you can ask them to tell you the spelling of the word ‘dog’. For kids who are very new to it, you can create two columns, one with the letters, and other with the sound, and you can slowly guide them through it.

4. Decoding

Yes, after the child has mastered other activities, now you can directly bring up decoding. This is a tough part and will require proper practice. But once the kid is familiar with letters, sounds, and the images, they can take up basic decoding. You can begin with a vowel list and then move on to word list. 

During the whole process, you can track their progress, make practicing fun with the help of images and symbols. You can even commit mistakes from your end and check whether they correct you or not. If they make errors, you can help them out and teach them how to be more careful.


Now you know the four skills to decode the word and pronounce it correctly.

Keep exploring EnglishBix to learn about segmentation of words into phonemes using simple rules.

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