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Top 5 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Read
This hub is a response to the question "What are the top 5 tips for teaching children to read?" asked by frogdropping. Though I am not an educator by profession, I have taken the liberty of addressing this topic from the point-of-view of a homeschooling mom.
I would like to share the top 5 tips for teaching children to read based on my experience in teaching my 3 kids to read. I am happy to say that they learned to read under my guidance at home. It wasn't easy but with much patience and determination, the effort was rewarded with success.
Tip #1 Be mindful of your goal.
To be mindful means being inclined to be aware or conscious. It implies focusing your attention on something. The goal is the end toward which effort is directed.
If your end goal is to teach your child to read, to be mindful of it means consciously making efforts or doing things to reach that end. Some of these activities may include putting up on the wall an alphabet poster or chart, buying early reading children's books, playing with your child using educational toys like magnetic letters or letter puzzles, and telling them stories or reading together.
You intentionally spend some time doing these things with your objective in mind. You can start by spending a few minutes each day reading to your child so she will develop the love of reading. Later on, more time can be spent in the teaching-learning activities as she becomes more prepared to learn the skill.
I've learned from Simpleology 101 that the scientific formula for success is: See your target; Keep it in your sights; and Hit it (until you hit it). This is a good formula to follow in order to succeed helping your child to read.
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Tip #2 Have a plan.
You need a plan to be able to teach your child to read. A plan is a method for achieving your goal. It gives the steps or courses of action you need to take to reach your objective. If you don't have a plan, the longer it will take for you to reach your goal.
Making a plan on how to teach your child to read is best expressed in a curriculum. Here is a list of things that you need to include in your teaching children to read curriculum:
- Teach short vowel sounds
- Teach consonant sounds
- Teach blending sounds to form words with short vowel sounds
- Teach the long vowel sounds
- Teach reading words with long vowel sounds
- Teach sight words. Sight words are words that do not usually follow the short vowel sound nor long vowel sound rules. The child needs to learn to read them just by looking at them.
- Teach consonant digraphs, vowel digraphs.
- Practice reading sentences then simple stories.
If you don't know where to begin, just as I did, here are some free resources you can look up to get you started on the right foot.
- Tutoring Video by Matt Nisjak - This is a great free video series on homeschooling or tutoring young children to read.
- Starfall - This online fun and interactive children's site is a favorite of my kids. It gives more than enough practice activities in learning how to read phonetically.
Tip #3 Make the teaching-learning process flexible and fun.
Each child is unique. One's interest and learning style differ from another. Therefore, the teaching-learning process should be flexible enough to accommodate the child's uniqueness.
As an example, my 2 sons learned to read at the age of about 4 years old. I enrolled them in a paid Phonics based reading program online. They spent about 30 minutes every other day learning to read. Then it was easy for me to reinforce their reading skills in homeschooling.
My 3rd child who is a girl was quite different. Though I enrolled her at about the same age in the same reading program, she did not get far because she doesn't have any interest in it. So, I had to teach her more diligently the old-fashioned way using flashcards, a Phonics workbook and reading book, similar to the resources described above. She eventually learned the skill at age 5.
Aside from having flexibility, fun should be incorporated in learning. Sometimes, if the child doesn't seem to want to learn, either because they don't understand it or they feel bored, using games and a reward system will help boost their desire to learn.
I remember using colorful magnetic letters in helping them learn the beginning and ending sounds of 3-letter words. Every time they point to the letter and give the correct sound, I reward them with an m&m. They had fun eating the m&m and learned their lesson at the same time.
Tip #4 Make room for Practice and Patience.
The sayings "Practice makes perfect" and "Patience is a virtue" are very much applicable in teaching our children to read.
In order to be proficient in reading, they have to do repeated exercises in reading. They are encouraged to read a set of words or a story until they know it very well. Time should be set aside every day in doing this.
Sometimes, I hear my children complain saying " I cannot do it" or "It is very difficult." What should you do? As much as you can, refrain from being mad. The first person who should learn patience is you, as the teacher. By being patient, we tend not to shout, be pushy or angry. This sets an example for our children to be patient as well. By saying "You can do it. It may not be that easy but you can do it", we encourage them to be persistent at learning.
Tip #5 Emphasize the relevance and importance of reading to their lives.
It is difficult to motivate our children to learn to read if they don't see the relevance and importance of reading in their lives. We have to show them that reading is relevant to everyday life. I always look for opportunities for them to read, for example, recognizing the letters or words written on the box of their favorite cereal or drink, or on signboards they see while riding the car.
Connecting reading to what they can do in life can encourage them at learning the skill. As a more specific example, in order to encourage my daughter who loves to be a singer, I told her that if she wants to be a singer, she needs to learn to read correctly the words or lyrics of the song. I think that helped a lot.
Lastly, reading is so important that it would be impossible to learn much in life and succeed without it. I especially liked them to learn to read so that they could read the Bible themselves. I even bought them a Phonics Bible. We enjoy taking turns reading through the stories and learn priceless truths in the Word of God.
© 2009 Chin chin