As a team which is passionate about early childhood development and the overall wellness of kids, we know that contrary to common belief, learning to read is not a ‘natural’ process that happens all on its own. Follow these steps to teach a child how to read and it should give you an understanding of how with practice, patience and Constance, it’s possible to turn the complex process to easy. Remember, nothing is impossible.
Learning how to read requires the proper teaching of various skills and strategies. Most children don’t start actually “reading” until around 6 years old. Parents should in no way feel pressured that their 3-year old needs to start reading (let’s kids be kids). However, the information shared below is general information that is beneficial for children of all ages, whether your child is ready to read or not.
You don’t have to implement all the strategies at once, nor should one expect a child to be able to do everything right away. Learning to read is a process and the information shared is for you to implement when you feel the child is ready.
It’s important for me to make you note that although the suggestions below are labeled as “steps”, they are not necessarily in consecutive order, or in any order of importance. These are just steps to teach a child how to read by giving you information to guide you to see how each of the components of reading fit together. Learning is supposed to be fun, so why not make it.
Ways to teach reading
The importance of mastering a single letter improves the ability to visually identify a letter and also to memories the sound associated with it. Build letters with clay and also buy colouring books which allows the child to colour in a letter.
Songs and nursery rhymes
This activity isn’t just a lot of fun but most importantly the rhyme and rhythm help children to hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps them learn to read. Find CD’s specially made for such a benefit or you can even make up your own songs which also adds up as a great bonding activity.
Read out loud
Reading to your child from infancy is a great way to get the child used to the idea of reading as a norm from an early age. Now I am not encouraging you to treat your child like a Harvard student but starting to read to your child from the early days of this wonderful earth does not only provide special bonding time but also instills the love for books.
Reading out loud also helps the child to follow and try to make sense of what you are reading. Use your fingers as you are reading through the book out loud so that the child can match the sound with the words. In time this helps the child put meaning to the words.
Play word games
The nice thing about word games is that you can play them anywhere, at home or even in the car. I encourage you to choose to play games which involves activities to listening, identifying and manipulating of sound in words. Focus on playing games that encourage your child to listen, identify and manipulate the sounds in words. For example, asking what sound a certain words starts or ends with.
Depending on the age, even games such as scrabble are a great way to learn and have fun while bonding was a family.
Make word cards
Make word cards which also contains and image which describes the word. Use this to play a game of pick a card. For example, ask a child to pick a card, read the word and explain what the word means. The image which is already in the card itself makes this easier for the child to relate the to.
If you decide to make word cards of colours, print the words with the actual colours which describes the words. For example, if the word is yellow print it with the colour yellow itself. This is a simple way to learn reading and comprehension at once.
Introduce sight words
Sight words is a common term in reading with a variety of meanings. When applied to early reading, sight word typically refers to a set of about 100 words that keeps reappearing on almost any page of text. “Who, the, he, were, does, their, me, be” just to name a few examples.
Flash card and hunting for the words in a book are a great way to practice sight words.
This is a great way to practice reading comprehension. Asking your child questions while reading to them is not only great to encourage interaction with the book, but it is also very effective in developing the child’s ability to comprehend what he/she is reading.
Keep in mind that our main objective in reading is not only in getting your child to “sound out” words, that is missing the point. If a child can’t comprehend what they are is reading, there really is no point to reading at all. Comprehension also makes reading more exciting because the child can make sense of what they are reading, therefore they’re also following the story instead of just a block of words.
If the child is still a baby, ask them if they can see the cat or even make sounds of the animals they see. This is great for vocabulary development and even genuine interest in the book.
Expose kids to environmental print
Environment print is all around us in our everyday lives. This is a reading term used to describe print which appears on signs, labels, logos, brand packages or even street signs.
A kid can first know that a sign says Coca-Cola before they can even learn how to read it. You can even create a print rich environment in your own home. For example having a block of letters which spells out the child’s name at home is great, this encourages a child to build an interest in how to read and spell their name. Once the child grasps that, the encouraging feeling develops an interest to learn more words.
Often times, we want to force our children to learn letter and words at a certain age. We drill our 2-year old with information and expect unreasonable results. Like I said in the beginning, it’s important to allow your kid to be a kid and let the natural curiosity flow. Just like adults, children’s minds are also like sponges. Think of all the information you had to memorise as an adult and how much effort and how long it took you to grasp that. Now think of the same process as though you were a child. I am sure you do understand that this takes practice, Constance, patience and most importantly fun. I would advise you to put no pressure on yourself or the child.
Your child will develop a natural curiosity about the print they see around them and will ask questions. That’s be your opportunity to apply practical explanation which makes sense to your child.
Teach your kids word families
You will get a lot done if you teach your child word families, this is short and simple. For example teach your child that if they can read “man” then they read “fan” and “pan”.
Every child learn at their own pace and age, so always remember to be patient and the single most important thing is to make it fun. Reading regularly together with the activities you choose, and also letting your child pick out their own books occasionally is a proven method to help instil an early love of reading.
Please do let us know your feedback in the comment section, it really helps us a lot to improve ourselves and ultimately improve our efforts in creating better platform designed to make learning fun.