Yes! You can actually teach your child to read
I am not going to teach you how to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons or how to teach your child to read in 10 minutes a day or in 20 easy lessons. I am am going to give you the steps you need to give your child a love of reading and the basic elements you will need to know in order to teach your child to read. There is no race to teach reading. They DO NOT have to be Baby Einsteins. They have to develop a love of reading and many skills to help them succeed as they go through elementary school years and life.
Believe it or not you have in your control the ability to teach your or any child to read without having a degree in teaching reading to children. There are many different parts to teaching kids how to read and many of those components can be incorporated into everyday living. There are of course the reading readiness skills that include visual discrimination, auditory discrimination and other various things things that come before actually teaching children the mechanics of reading.
Getting Kids ready to read by reading books to them
There is no better place to start than by reading to children books and books and even more books. This activity can be started with extremely young children. I remember reading to my oldest daughter who is already a mother of a few children from when she was less than a year old. I would sit her on my lap and show her the pictures and say what was on the page.
By reading to children from young ages they gain an appreciation of books and stories and want to learn to read on their own as they grow older. As they get a bit older you can start showing them what a book is about. This is called book terrain. Children are fascinated to know these points about the books they are read to. I will list some of the concepts to teach the children as you are reading to them and they are ready to understand.
- We read from left to right
- Every book has a cover with some information about the book on the outside and inside
- The author is the person who wrote the book and her name is on the front cover
- The illustrator is the person who drew the pictures and his name is also on the front cover
- Inside it tells us when the book was printed
- Fiction is a made up story and non fiction is a true story
Those are just some basic points to share with children about their books. Most of the kids I have shared this information with are usually quite fascinated and on their own start asking about other books and their authors etc.
Reading all around us and the right age to teach reading
There is very big controversy as to what is the right age to actually begin the formal teaching of reading. Most experts agree that between the ages of 5-7 years old is the right time to teach kids to read and if they are not reading by age 7 then it is time to seek help. Parents tend to get hysterical if their 4 year olds don’t know the letters of the alphabet and they don’t realize that learning the alphabet is not all there is to learn to learn how to read. Children will be much better readers and will love reading more if we don’t shove it down their throats at an early age but, introduce it to them as they grow.
Reading is all around us. Signs on the streets, in the stores and in our homes. We have to start the childrens reading journey by introducing them to the reading that is around us
One of the first things to look at is how children view reading, what is it exactly. Children need to learn at a very young age that reading is “talk written down”.In order for children to grasp the idea that reading is talk written down there are many reading and pre reading activities you can do with children to help them grasp this concept. These reading activities can be done in a kindergarten or preschool classroom or at home or in the streets.
A good place to begin is to point out to your child at every opportunity you have what things say. If you are in the fruit store show them how the fruits and vegetable are listed so we know what they are. Street signs are written down so we know where we are. Once the children have the basic idea that words communicate things you can move to getting their words down on paper. There is nothing that teaches them that better that reading is talk written down.
Children love to draw and paint and then to tell you about their artwork. When they do that, write it down. Write down stories that they tell you, words that they tell you, and write your own stories for them.
What this does is it teaches kids that reading is “talk written down”. Many kids don’t make that connection so easily.
Aside from having their words written down it is important to have as much writing all around them so they get used to seeing the written word and relating it to something specific. The best way to start is with the child’s name. Kids names are extremely important to them and if you are at home or in the classroom you can start by putting their names all over. If you are doing this in a classroom situation if you are doing this with all of the children name pretty soon they will know how to read all the kids names. (you can do this at home with siblings as well)
- Put their names on their cubbies
- Make an attendance chart that is large and visible with their names
- Create a memory game with the kids names
- Have a job chart up with rotating kids names
- Names should go on all of their artwork
Other places to use everyday reading
If you are an early childhood teacher there is reading on
- Weather charts
- Block signs
- Labeled signs on bulletin boards
- Labeled items in the classroom
Recipes are another great way to incorporate reading into the classroom. I sued to make simple recipes with pictures so that the kids could follow along. Below is a copy of one of those that I once made when I was teaching kindergarten.
There are many ways to create recipes for the children but, it is a great way to introduce them to reading. As children get used to your writing things they say down and seeing language all around the room , it sparks great interest in reading more and writing. And as we know the more interest there is in a subject the quicker they learn it.
It is very important by the way that when you write for and with the children that you be very careful that your handwriting is clear and legible manuscript writing. We want children to see correct penmanship from the beginning and they can get confused when we don’t write clearly.
Components of actual reading skills
There have been for as long as I know, arguments on what is the best way to teach reading. I think teaching phonics was the way that teaching reading began but, when I went to graduate school in the 80′s whole language was really big. Whole language concentrates on reading stories, follow up activities to the stories, immersion in the stories, predicting, sequencing etc etc. As I left being a preschool and kindergatern teacher to stay home to raise my own children the new word became eregent literacy. Whatever its called today the best way to teach reading is to use a combination of all of the methods combined.
Each child learns differently and by using a combinatoj of methods the hcild can latch on to the way that he learns best. Many years ago when I was teaching kindergarten I used to do an experiecne chart every day. I would have many of the same words reperted daily and a number of the kids started pciking up reading. There was one little boy I had, Joey who was able to read the whole chart each day from beginning to end.
When Joey was in the second grade I met his Mom and asked her how he was doing. She told me he was failing reading. My best reader who was a great sight reader could not hack the phonics program he was exposed to. It is very important therefor, to have a whole combination of methods combined when teaching children to read.
There is phonics of course, there are whole language activities, there are sight words and the many sight words games that are needed to memorize the sight words the children need. There are also reading readiness and language activities for preschoolers that are an important part of the reading process.
My goal here is not to give you an entire lesson in how to teach phonics but, a basic primer to get you started and to tell you where you can learn more. Sounding out is the backbone of reading which is called phonics. Reading starts with hearing which explains why a reading readiness skill like auditory discrimination is so important. Songs, rhymes and poem all build this phonemic awareness that children need to learn the sounds in words It is therefore much more important to teach the sounds of the letters before the names of the letters. Teaching the kids the a “w” is a “double you” will not help them at all to learn the sound a w makes.
When introducing the children to the words all around them you can add to the experiences by making them aware of the initial sounds the words are made by the first letter of the words. Vowels should also be left to the end and its better to start with lower case letters than with capitals.
Once kids learn that letters make sounds we move to the blends. There are letters that make sounds when joined togheter and then there are sounds that change when they are together liek the “ch”
Combining phonics with sight words helps wound out the childrens skills. There are certain words that really cannot be figured out through phonetics and need to be memorized. In order to do that there are many sight words games that the children can use to practice memorizing these important and often used words. These are words like when and the etc.
There is a tremendous amount of immersion in reading that has to be done while the children are learning their phonetics and their sight words. Books and stories and filling in missing words and talking about the different settings is what brings reading alive. The more interested children are in what they are reading the more they will want to learn to read even if it is a bit of a struggle for them. Within the whole language approach there is guided reading and paired reading that will help the children get all the practice they need to be great readers.
Tips to help make your child a great reader
These are the components you need tomkae your child a graet reder.
- Lots of reading and books around (make sure they have a library card)
- A cd player so they can listen to books on cd
- Control the T.V. and keep kids away as much as possible
- phonemic awareness
- sight vocabulary
To further help the children be better readers and to help you teach kids how to read is its important to keep the criticism to a minimum and the encouragement overflowing.
- Before you give children a book to read, check the book for unfamiliar words and go over with them with your child before they start the book. This will make the reading flow better.
- look at the book and the pictures before the start reading to see what is coming
- help your child sound out the words before she starts
- tell her the hard words like who and what if she doesn’t have them memorized yet
- make word families from the words you find in the book
- do guided readings often
That’s all there is to teaching young children to read. If you immerse yourself in the books on phonetics and be patient and loving throughout the process your child will be reading in no time. If you find after a good while that no matter what you do its not working, then you may want to have your child checked out by a reading professional to see if its something you’re doing wrong or does your child really have a reading issue. Sometimes its a small things that you need to be aware of so keep your eyes and ears open.