Saturday, April 8, 2017

Teaching Your Child to Read

These tips are from a now-defunct page entitled The Reading Lesson. I thought these were useful to share.

How to Teach Your Child to Read

Teach the sounds of the letters together with their names.
The sound (or sounds) of the letters are often different from the name of the letter. In reading, it is the sounds that count. When you read to the child, point to the letter C, for example and say; "the name of this letter is [see] and it makes two sounds: [kkk] as in the word cat and also [sss] as in the word cent." Then ask child to give you examples.
Do not be rigid in how the child pronounces the sounds. Regional accents and weak auditory skills make it hard for children to say most sounds in an academically correct way. Accept a reasonable effort. Recognize that learning sounds is only an intermediate step to learning to read.

Teach lower case letters first.
Have you noticed that nearly all ABC books for young children teach uppercase letters first? Yet capital letters account for only five percent of all letters in written English. Therefore, pay more attention to teaching the lower case letters. Lower case letters are far more important in developing reading skills. (Tina note: I personally believe it is important to teach upper and lower case letters together).

Do not worry about grammar at this point.
Preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders are very concrete in the way they think and cannot handle complicated concepts. It is not necessary at this stage to teach them about consonants, vowels, long and short sounds and such. They can learn to read just as well without these rules.
By age four, most English speaking children already have an excellent grasp of grammar of the language and in due time, they will learn all the formal grammatical rules in school. At this point, you need to concentrate only on the mechanical skill of reading. (Tina note: Reading and writing without judgement is important. We don't want to discourage our children from trying!)

Teach your child writing along with reading.
Children learn to read faster and easier if they learn to write at the same time. The motor memory of the letters, listening to their sounds and seeing them in writing will reinforce new learning. So, teach your child to write letters and words.

Limit the initial reading vocabulary.
Reading is a very complex process. Not all words can be read using simple phonic rules. Many important words need to be learned by sight. Teach only the simple and common words at first. The knowledge of 400 key words called Dolch words, is all a young child needs to be able to read well. (Tina note: You can Google Dolch or Fry word lists, or look for vocabulary related to your child's grade level. If it is too challenging, adjust it by going down a grade because these levels are not written in stone. Flexibility is key.)

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