Teach Your Child To Read

The Process of Learning to Read

In this hub I will endeavour to explain the processes through which children go when they are learning to read and write. It will look at what strategies are taught and how you can help your child to read at home. Terms will be explained that you may or may not have heard such as synthetic phonics and phonemic awareness.

My wife is a teacher with plenty of experience in teaching children from the ages of 3 – 7 and is also a parent of three children aged between 3 and 17 whom she has taught or is teaching to read and write, I hope you find I have made this site interesting with her information and it is also useful for you, and that you keep coming back to look for more information which will be added in bit by bit. If there is anything you would like me to explain or include, please let me know and i will pass the request onto her.

The process of learning to read and write starts a long time before your child starts going to school and receiving formal instruction and teaching. Listening to language, learning to speak and looking at print in all forms such as in books, on food packets and as logos for products are just some of the things which all contribute to your child's understanding that print carries meaning and it is important to decode this to understand it. It is essential for a child to understand the importance of reading and to see it in a positive and enjoyable light for them to be motivated and excited about learning to read for themselves.Children who do not consider it to be a fun thing to do will be unlikely to want to cooperate in your attempts to help them!

Learning to Read:

When a child picks up a book for the first time, it is usually to put it in their mouth to suck or chew it! When they grow and they get older, and with a lot of patience, they will begin to enjoy you ‘reading’ with them, but usually this involves reading short picture books with few words as they don’t have the patience to wait for you to read even a sentence before they grab the book and try to turn the page. But don’t despair; learning to turn the pages in a book is a key skill that they need to master before they start learning to read, so the more practice the better! At this stage the pictures are the most important part of the reading experience, they usually tell the story without the words accompanying them too, and encouraging interaction and attention span by asking questions about them, pointing things out and getting your child to talk about what they can see will help them to move onto the next stage naturally when they are ready. Children develop at different rates though so be careful that you do not try to push them too hard when the brain is still too immature to cope.

Eventually they will develop the patience and interest which will allow you to fully share the book with your child together, actually reading the words on the page before they turn it over! It is still important to focus on pictures and talk about what they can see and find out from them, as the pictures are one of the things which will help them when they are beginning to read for themselves. Also after each page or section, you can discuss and ask questions about what you have read to make sure they understand the story and if they don't you can go over it again, and even again if really needed because your child will not get bored too easily even if you do. This helps to teach them that comprehension is an important part of reading and they should expect to understand what is read as well as helping to increase their vocabulary. Another thing you can do when reading is to track the words with your finger or a pointer stick so they see that the words are what you are reading, rather than the pictures and that we always read from left to right and front to back rather than starting at the back and going forwards.

When your child understands that the text will always carry meaning and can identify where the words are in the book and where we start to read, when they can turn the pages him or herself and talk about the pictures, they may at the point where they are ready to start to read very simple books themselves.There is one site online that has a fun little screening tool to give you some indication as to whether they are nearly ready or not, though ultimately you know your own child best and know if they are ready and willing or just likely to be frustrated and uninterested! (Check out the links at the end for this site)

You along with many others may find that your children can ‘read’ their favourite books from memory very accurately and this is something which really should be praised and encouraged even though many parents worry that this is not ‘real reading’. It is a very good start though! It is best for your child to show interest in reading first, in letters and words, and you can answer their questions such as “What does that word/letter say?” very easily, but there are ways to make them even more interested and help their understanding by playing games and activities which will lead them to the point where they can ask questions!


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