How to Teach Children to Read
A love for reading begins as early as infancy! Reading to your baby teaches him about communication and exposes information about the world around us. As they grow we build on our child's background and watch them bloom into children with a love for literacy.
My children are 4 and 6, I am careful not to force them to learn new skills they aren't ready to attempt. I want reading to be an activity that they love, not something they resent because Mom made reading a chore. The best way to learn is through hands-on experiences. When children are having fun and can relate to what they are learning it makes their experience more meaningful.
Teach the Alphabet!
The first step in learning to read is learning the alphabet. Since letters make up words, we need to know what each individual letter is and the sounds they make. The best way to learn letters is in a relaxed and fun setting. Keep the learning natural!
Fun activities to help your child learn the alphabet:
- Talk about the letters in your child's name
- Discuss letters in your environment- Have your child be an alphabet detective at the grocery store. Print off an alphabet sheet and have your child cross out letters as she finds them.
- Make letters- Smear the table with shaving cream and practice making letters with your finger or use play-doh to form letters.
Picture books are an amazing way to get children excited, interested and engaged in reading. Picture books:
- Use simple text and illustrations to tell the story.
- Introduce children to new experiences.
- Grow your child's confidence as a reader!
Phonics and Decoding
Phonics is a method of teaching people to connect sounds with letter names. Decoding is the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships to correctly pronounce written words.
Learning word families helps children decode new words with the same sound. For example, we can take the word cat and change it to hat, mat, rat and sat.
Sight words are usually words that don't follow a spelling pattern and children will need to know them by sight. For example, take the word have. If we follow the a_e pattern, have would be pronounced with a long a sound instead of a short a. But it is not, have is an exception to the rule along with many other words.
Click here for a list of sight words. I recommend practicing 10-15 words at time, an amount that is not too overwhelming. I have two active boys so several of the activities we do involve movement.
Sight Word Games:
- Parking Lot- Write the words on the outer edge of a piece of paper into parking spots. You say the word and have the child park a hot wheels car into the correct parking spot.
- Sight Word Jump- Write the words note cards and spread the cards into a circle. Have your child stand in the center of the circle. Call out the sight word and have your child jump to the correct word.
- Smash-a-word- Use play-doh to make small mounds. Write the sight word on top of the mound. Call out the sight word and have your child smash the correct word with a toy hammer.
Comprehension brings the whole reading process together. In addition to being able to read we need to understand what we are reading!
1. Make predictions- Before reading a new book; read the title and have your child do a picture walk. Based on the title and pictures, have your child make a prediction. Remind them that predictions aren't right or wrong they are just what you think the story is going to be about.
2. Make connections- During and after the story, discuss with your child how the story made them feel. Can they relate to one of the characters? Does the story remind them of an event that happened in their life?
3. Clarify- Encourage your child to ask questions. Did you encounter any words that were unfamiliar to your child? By discussing the meanings of these unknown words you help your child to better comprehend the story. Were their parts of the story that were confusing to your child?
4. Sequencing- Use pictures from the story to create a timeline. Mix up the pictures and have your child retell the story by putting the cards in the correct order.
Learning to read is an ongoing process! The more we read the better reader we become. The best thing you can do for your child to foster a love for reading is to make it enjoyable. Read with your child EVERY SINGLE DAY!