How to teach your child to read - the basic beginning steps:
1) Read to your child. The more expression, the better. Pretend like you're auditioning for a play or something. Be creative with different voices and let yourself get silly.
2) Teach your child the alphabet song. Eventually, make sure they know they're singing about individual letters (so they don't think that eminemopee is some animal with lots of legs).
3) Introduce them to the capital letters with all kinds of games. Alphabet blocks. Books. Making the letters out of legos or cars. Or even on a larger sheet of paper, an outline of the letter that the cars can follow. Make sure they're repeating the letter as they do this. We did gigantic alphabet flashcards - which I just made out of white construction paper, putting a different letter on each one. We made patterns on the floor with these letter cards and then I'd quiz them by having them walk to the letter I called out. At the beginning, I worked with only 4 or 5 different letters at a time until they learned them, and then added more.
4) Once they know all the capital letters and are able to readily identify them, you can move on to sounds of consonants and common sounds of vowels. Very informal. Just start listing items in the room and ask your child to come up with what letter it starts with. Point out that many alphabet letter names start with the same sound they make. Once they get to this step, they can spell the first letter of pretty much any word, and this is pretty exciting for them.
Hi Sara. I found your blog via Beckie's blog. I am wondering where you found these simple steps for teaching your kids to read. As a teacher, I am pleased that you are taking steps to help your children read! That's fabulous! I wish more parents would do that. However, there is A LOT more to it. There are important phonemic awareness activities that build a strong basis for literacy even before letter names and sounds.
Perhaps Sarah's post seemed a bit simplistic. As you mentioned, I think many parents find this kind of instruction intimidating and never do anything purposeful to help their children learn to love reading. Sarah does, however, do much more than this for preschool activities. The main "phonemic awareness activies" (a new term for me) are the Explode the Code series of books that do a lot with rhyming, word splitting and other activities that seem to be what you're talking about.
I think Sarah's post was simply identifying some suggestions as a starting point, and we are all free to creatively use our own strategies.
The more we all intentionally incorporate the four channels of communicating - reading, writing, speaking, and listening - the better off our kids will be.
And Brian hit on the key, we want our kids to love reading (and learning) and probably the simplest way to accomplish that is to model it. Reading should be a way of life.
By the way, anyone come across any foreign language CDs or DVDs that you like for preschoolers?
Please feel free to add any ideas of your own that have worked with your children.
Lance, yikes, I don't know of any good foreign language programs for preschoolers - haven't ventured into that area yet, but go to the cbd website and look under tools for homeschooling, foreign language, and preschool/kindergarten, and there will be something. They've got great stuff!
Our favorite sources for beginning reading (besides just good 'ole read-aloud books) have been the Leap Frog Fridge Phonics set (also the Word Whammer). They use capital and lower case letters and teach phonics in all forms with a cute song. (Perhaps not so cute after about 100 times, but still.) We used this with our kids starting around 18 months.
Also, I highly recommend the "Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading." At first glance it seems really lame as there are no pictures at all and everything is in black and white. I've found, though, that it's more distracting for my kids to have too much going on on a page while learning a new skill. As a classical guide, there is an emphasis on memorization.
Just as a final note, we used "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" for a while, but quickly became frustrated with the methods. We found that our kids were ready to learn basic reading skills before they were ready to write (this is obviously typical, especially for boys) and there was an immediate emphasis on writing in "100 Lessons". (There were some other things that I wasn't thrilled about with this system as well.) I do know people who have used this source successfully with their children though.
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