I am currently enrolled in a college course about the English language. We have done a lot of work on morphemes, specifically letter sounds. Being in this class, we had to break down words, discarding a morpheme every time. If we didn’t know what a word meant, certain morphemes, such as prefixes or suffixes, helped get us a step closer to the accurate definition. How cool that even at the college level, I am still using elementary techniques in a sense to figure out words. These concepts might seem so simple, but in reality, they are a necessity in order to achieve full knowledge of reading words.
While this is on a totally different scale, I can relate, and I can also attest to the importance of having knowledge of roots and basic phonetics. The concept of syllables is something that can be learned at a very young age. There are activities you can do that help understand that, such as simply holding your chin when you say words, and knowing that every time you feel it move, that is generally another syllable. This can be a good place to assess children, as some have trouble with multisyllabic words. If the sound is only prevalent in multisyllabic words, it may be unfamiliar for them, causing them to struggle. I have seen evidence of this in the early observations of my case study child. In larger words, she knows some of the sounds, but appears to be guessing on the rest of the word. This is certainly something I hope to expand on with her.
What makes syllables interesting is that they often fall into patterns. You can give a child a list of many words that emphasizes their weak syllable point in reading, so they can really work on that and see where these sounds are found. There are many other strategies that can be used to teach syllables. The most important thing is to not give students the answers. Encourage them along, giving them stepping stones if necessary. Let them figure it out on their own. Help can obviously be adjusted as needed.
Teaching morphemic elements is something that should be taught based on what the children already know. Take certain morphemes, prefixes, or suffixes that the children already know, and put them on the word wall. If in your reading and writing they come across something they are unsure of, you can add it to the wall. Encourage them to search for syllables like this and figure them out. Making connections is an important part of reading. It might be good to ask, “What parts of this word do you recognize?” The more familiar they become with these words, the easier it will be to pick them out in words, and be able to branch off and find new words.