The ability to read is an indispensable skill to any child, a skill parents can begin to teach before their child reaches kindergarten. Most toddlers actually begin to recognize letters around the age of two to three years. Many children will begin to recognize words that are common within their world by age three to four whether parents try to teach them or not.
As a parent, you can even begin to set the foundation for learning to read while your child is a baby. Studies show that babies that are read to are more intelligent and have more advanced verbal skills than those that are not. Babies and toddlers that are taught a love for books and reading early are also more likely to maintain this love later in life. If a child enjoys learning to read, they are far more likely to succeed.
This simple systematic guide on how to teach a child to read will offer tips and advice to help parents go from reading books to their children, to having their children read books to them.
Learning the alphabet
The very first step in teaching a child to read is to teach them the letters of the alphabet. Teaching your child letters can be thought of like a prerequisite to reading. You can find a full guide to teaching the ABC’s by clicking here.
Once your child has learned the letters and their sounds, you can begin to teach him/her to read actual words. Several methods can be used to teach reading. Many of these methods can actually be combined. This guide will cover three of those methods. A fourth, called Phonics, is the most commonly used method, but is also rather in-depth in explanation, because of this phonics will be covered in its own guide which can be found by clicking here.
Look and Say Method:
The look and say method uses flash cards with pictures and words or short sentences. The idea is that the child will memorize or remember what the word looks like that you are saying as well as associate it with the picture. Eventually the child will be able to read those words and use them in different sentences.
To use the look and say method, use a set of flash cards with words and pictures. First, read the words to your child and have them look at the pictures. Second, have the child say the words while studying each word individually.
You can also make cards with the individual words within your sentence cards. Later these individual cards can be used to form new sentences.
The look and say method has received some negative heat, as some believe it teaches kids to memorize words but not to truly read. Phonics for example teaches children the sounds of words so they can read words on their own, while look and say method simply teaches them to recognize the words. This complaint may be eliminated by combining it with phonics when teaching your child to read.
Language Experience Approach:
The language experience approach works by using your child’s own words to teach them to read.
Here are a two examples of using the language experience method:
1. Have your child draw some pictures and ask them what the pictures are. Write down word for word what they say below the picture. Then have your child tell you what the picture is while looking at the written version you wrote. Turn these drawings into a book and read it often. The next step is to have your child trace the words in the book. In time the child will be able to read and write the words in the book.
2. Have your child tell you a story. While he/she talks write the entire story down in their exact words. Do not change any words whether they are not grammatically correct or not. Next, read the story back to your child while he/she follows along. Because your child already knows what the story says he/she should be able to read it back to you within a few readings, but by looking at the words as they tell the story they will learn to read the words.
This method can also be helpful if your child becomes bored of the books you have.
The Context Support Method:
The context support method associates pictures with words. This method is particularly good to use in combination with phonics with beginning readers.
To use the context support method, chose a subject that interests your child such as cars or dolls and find books about these things. By choosing topics your child already has an interest in you will find them far more interested in the books. Interest and attention can be difficult to hold in younger children and are necessary to learn to read.
Next, you simple read the books together. There are books on the market designed for this method of teaching a child to read which have short sentences or single words on one side of the page in association with a picture and longer sentences on the other side. The parent reads the longer sentence while the child follows along and the child the shorter sentence or singular word. For example, a picture of a car, one side may simply say, “car” and the other, “The car is blue”. In time the child would learn to recognize the word car. Once this happens you can have the child read the longer sentence, which you have been reading. Since the child knows how the story goes so to speak, they will also learn to recognize the words in the longer sentence.
You may also find helpful:
Increasing a Child’s Attention Span