What is concept of word? Why is it important?

What is concept of word? Why is concept of word important when teaching beginning reading?

One of the things that I always look for when helping one of my students learn to read is whether or not the student knows and understands ‘concept of word’.   What is ‘concept of word’?  Why is it important that a student understand ‘concept of word’ when learning how to read?

Concept of word simply means that a student understands that each little group of letters in a sentence is a word, that words are separated by a space, and that and each word has a meaning and is a spoken word.

So, here is an example – Read the following sentence:

See the red hat.

If a student understands concept of word, the student sees 4 words in that sentence.  The student can count these words.  If you read the sentence to the student, the student can point to each word in the sentence and know that each written word is a spoken word.  When a student sees and recognizes a ‘group of letters’ as a word, the student is seeing and understanding ‘concept of word.’    Once the student understands concept of word, the student begins to be able to break down the word into different sounds – (beginning, middle, ending) sounds – thus, helping the student learn to read the word by sounding out, or recognize the word -if it is a sight word.

Concept of word is a fairly easy concept for most students, but, students who struggle with reading may have difficulty with this concept.  Each day in Mrs. Karle’s Learn to Read for free program, Mrs. Karle works with the students on concept of word by teaching the students to use a pointer, or their finger, to point to each word as they read.  After she has finished teaching the students for the day, she has the students read the previous day’s reading and circle all the words that they know.   The circling of the words the student knows allows Mrs. Karle (or, you, the student’s teacher!) to see whether or not the student understands where each word begins and ends.  In other words, the circling of the words shows you that the student understands concept of word.  It also shows the student that he/she knows many words!  This gives the student confidence that he/she knows how to read, and encourages the student to keep reading.

Look for more ideas on how to help your student learn concept of word in upcoming blog posts!

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