Reading is an essential daily skill , both for the pleasure of discovering new universes and for learning about a subject or orienting oneself in space. However, acquiring this skill is not a natural process. So how do you teach a child to read ? In this article, Jenae Jacobson, a teacher with a passion for learning to read, shares her 10 easy steps to getting there.
When do children learn to read?
As a former first grade kindergarten teacher, teaching children to read is one of my greatest passions! Most kids don’t start “reading” until around age 6 (which is above the target age range for my blog )
1. Read aloud to your child
No, I’m definitely not advocating for programs that claim to teach your baby to read using word cards… What I do encourage you to do is start reading with your newborn. in the days following his arrival at home!
If children are not taught at an early age to enjoy reading, chances are that it will one day prevent them from doing so.
The amount of books you read to your child is completely up to you and your family, but I suggest you strive to read at least 3-4 books a day, even when your child is very young.
2. Ask her questions
Asking your child questions while they read is not only great for encouraging them to interact with the book, but it’s also extremely effective in developing their ability to understand what they’re reading.
You see, if our primary goal in “reading” is to get our child to “recognize” words, we’ve completely missed the mark
When your child is a baby, ask questions such as “Do you see the cat? while showing her the picture of the cat. This will not only build their vocabulary , but also encourage them to interact with the book they are reading.
Modifying each of these techniques during reads aloud to suit your child’s developmental stage is a great way to promote and increase reading comprehension!
3. Be a good example (of reading)
Even if your child is fascinated by books from an early age, their fascination will quickly diminish if they don’t see reading as a role model at home.
If you’re not an avid reader yourself, make a conscious effort to have your children see you reading for at least a few minutes each day
4. Identify letters in a natural environment
Before our boys were born, we painted and hung large wooden letters spelling out their names above the cribs as decoration in their bedrooms.
5. Integrate multiple developmental domains to prepare the child to learn to read
Children learn best when multiple senses or areas of development are considered. This is why hands-on learning allows for better retention and subsequent application.
Once your child has shown an interest in letters and you have already started using the natural frames to identify these letters, start implementing activities that incorporate as many of the meanings as possible.
6. Organize books by genre
When your child is about 5 years old and can tell the difference between fact and fiction, I suggest you start helping him understand different genres of books during your reading time together.
This may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. There are about 5 different genres of children’s books that I encourage you to show your child.
When children classify a book into a certain genre, they must first summarize the book in their head and remember the details.
7. Use words from the same families
Teaching word families to children is a phoneme awareness activity that helps children see patterns of reading.
This is an important skill for learning to read because it allows children to begin to “read” by putting together sets of letters within a word.
8. Teach children about phonemes and phonics
“Phonemes” are the smallest sounds in the English language (go here for a full list of phonemes). These sounds are composed of consonants, short vowels, long vowels and digraphs.
9. Teaching a child to read through deciphering
Decoding is often called “decryption”. It’s an important part of teaching your child to read, but it’s certainly not the most important.
Once your child knows the sounds of each letter (which they are taught in real, meaningful situations), they are ready to start putting the words together.
10. Try sight words
Sight words, also known as high-frequency words, are the most common words in our written language and are often difficult to decode phonetically because they do not follow the rules of phonetics
As I told you before, I am not a fan of rote memorization for optimal learning, because I feel that it uses only the lowest level of cognitive processes.