Teach Your Kids to Read in Five Easy Steps
By Breana Orland, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: July 29, 2010
Whether your children have yet to start school or they’re struggling with reading at a beginning or intermediate level, it is your responsibility to see that they are getting the proper education. A strong foundation in reading at an early age is the cornerstone for everything else they will learn down the road, and it can influence related subjects like writing and comprehension, as well as seemingly disparate topics from history and geography to math and science. So in order to ensure that they are starting their education off on the right foot, you might want to work on reading at home before they even start school and continue throughout their early education. Here are a few tips to get your enterprise off the ground.
- Start with the alphabet. You know the song and you can start teaching it to kids as soon as they say their first words. Familiarizing them with letters early on will make it easier to associate them with symbols when you want to start teaching them to read, which many parents try to do as early as age three. You shouldn’t expect too much from them right away as children develop at different rates and you don’t want to push them to the point of frustration, but some kids do grasp the correlation between symbols and sounds more quickly than you anticipate.
- Try rhyming. This is a good way to help your children focus their auditory skills as you prepare them to read. They’ll become familiar with groups of sounds that will make it easier when they begin to try sounding out words on a page.
- Use the phonics method. This is basically a system of teaching that relies on a child’s ability to memorize the sounds associated with letters and letter groupings and then apply that knowledge to sounding out whole words. You’ll want to start out simply with single-syllable words, then move on to words with multiple syllables before you even attempt more difficult words, phrases, or whole sentences. There are plenty of resources that you can either purchase or find free on the web to help you with this teaching method.
- Improve memory. Play memory games with your child to help them learn to flex their mental muscles, focus, and retain information. There are all kinds of simple memory games you can play, but the best ones for your purpose will include words that sound alike or all start with a certain letter.
- Use the whole language method. This form of teaching is a rival to phonics and there is some debate over which is the better technique. While phonics are essential to reading in the long term, the process can cause some initially difficulty for children who have trouble memorizing the rules associated with language. The whole language system, on the other hand, encourages children to memorize whole words in order to encourage successful reading more quickly. Unfortunately, this may make it more difficult for them to learn new words later on (unlike the sounding-out of phonics). However, it is not necessary to choose one method over the other. A combination of practices may be your best bet to get your child reading and keep them on track with expanding their vocabulary.