Teaching your child to read, explained in just a few easy steps.
“Homeschoolers are admirably dedicated people, and that very dedication often leads them to choose the hard-work, ineffective approaches rather than the natural, effective approaches. They feel the natural ways are too gentle. They feel they’re not doing a good job unless the work is difficult almost to the point of frustration.” How Not To Teach Writing, by Ruth Beechick
If you’re feeling frustrated or scared that your child will not learn to read, see the first post. Teaching your child to read is something that parents have done for generations.
If you’re ready, then here’s a rundown on the simple things you can do right now to teach your child to read.
Reading great books together is a very important part of teaching your child to read. I like to read small children picture books, and I see value in doing so. Some people like to read chapter books. Read whatever you and your child enjoy together. I think it’s best if you read the books with your child, but realistically, we are all busy and have a lot to do. Do you have a baby who needs to nap? It’s ok to let your four year old watch Strega Nona and other books read on DVD so you can have a chance to get the baby to sleep.
You don’t need to finish teaching all the sounds before you start letting your child learn to sound out some of the words you read. When I taught public school it took forever to introduce the entire alphabet. It doesn’t need to take that long if you use better methods and start when your child is ready. There are many games, like Bingo or matching, that you can use to teach letters and sounds. My own kids learned the alphabet and the letter sounds in about two weeks using Meet the Letters by Preschool Prep Company. Letter Sounds DVD by Rock ‘N Learn was also helpful for my youngest child. My middle child loved LeapFrog: Letter Factory.
There isn’t any real need to go “in order” using a phonics curriculum, but if you feel like you want the reassurance, you can use something like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
I See Sam books are free to print out. Bob Books are popular. Sonlight’s Fun Tales are the same idea. Some philosophies of teaching reading don’t use basal readers. I think basal readers are totally unnecessary, but 2/3 of my children used them to learn to read and it was a nice confidence-building activity for them. For pete’s sake, DON’T USE THEM IN PLACE OF REAL STORY BOOKS. Why would anyone want to learn to read if they thought books were only made up of these dumb stories?
Sooner or later, your child is going to notice that a lot of words have to memorized by sight, because they don’t follow rules of phonics.
You can teach sight words in many ways. One way is to learn sight words by reading books together. Eventually, you’re going to cover the common sight words. Leveled readers are great for this stage, but you can use anything your child is willing to sit and read with you.
Another way is to use sight word lists, such as Dolch or Dr. Fry’s. I have used Dr. Fry’s book for many years. It’s not magical, and it’s not necessary, but it helped me teach many kids to read. I feel like this book is a good value because it teaches so many sight words compared to other items that cost about the same. Dr. Fry’s 1000 Instant Words: The Most Common Words for Teaching Reading, Writing and Spelling.
A third way is to use DVDs. My youngest child learned very fast from using the Preschool Prep Sight Words DVDs. You can use games like Bingo, matching, etc.I don’t think the method is important. I think your child’s enthusiasm and readiness are the most important factors. Each of my children learned their sight words in different ways. Know what they had in common? They liked what they were doing and they wanted to learn to read.Some people worry about screen time and learning to read. I limit my children’s screen time severely, and we do not have a cable TV subscription, but I found that TV and video games were painless ways to learn literacy and math skills.
My middle child learned sight words from this Animal Crossing Nintendo Game. I’d taught her sounds, letters, and phonics. I read many books to her. But her reading took off while she was playing a video game. Really. The game involves a lot of reading and writing, and when she was four years old, she really wanted to be able to play it.
Remember, if you’re feeling frustrated or scared that your child will not learn to read, see the first post. If you feel that your child could have a learning disability, don’t wait to get it addressed. There are many resources available.