Teach your child to read, the easy way…
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After teaching my son how to read at the age of 3 and perform basic mathematical functions such as adding by the age of 4, many of my friends inquired about my methods and programs. Initially I would share on private messages, emails and even Facebook posts, however after some thought about the dire statistics of African American youth and our limited academic achievement due to lack of preparation, I decided that perhaps I should share this knowledge with others.
Aside from asking how a person is able to teach their child to read at an early age, one might question why. Its simple. Neurological studies show that children experience 85% of their total brain development before the age of 5; thus their ability to develop higher cognitive functions is determined before they even enter kindergarten. Coincidentally, numerous statistics show that African American youth have a tendency to fall behind as early as kindergarten because many parents depend on the education system to educate their child.
The sad truth is, America’s education system is substandard and if you are poor, a minority, and in a state where education is already below average, your child is put at a disadvantage the moment they walk in the door. To fix this parents MUST get involved and take advantage of their child’s educational potential before they enter the school system.
The following steps can help provide guidance in teaching your child how to read long before they enter elementary school.
Teaching Your Child How To Read
- STEP 1: Make Reading a Routine
- STEP2: Learning the Alphabet
- STEP 3: Letter Recognition
- STEP 4: Teaching Letter Sounds
- STEP 5: Sight Words Recognition
- STEP 6: Use Phonics to Sound Out Words
- STEP 7: Introduce Similar Words
- STEP 8: Long Vowels, Digraphs and Blends
- STEP 9: Promote Critical Thinking
- STEP 10: Allow them to Play Teacher
No matter how old your child is, reading a bedtime story is a welcome routine that he or she will enjoy. Even before your child can comprehend your words, he is paying attention to your voice and actions and interpreting the environment around him. Scientific evidence suggests that by merely hearing words children become smarter and more in tuned to the word around them.
When reading books to children under two, ensure that books are relatively short, brightly illustrated, and have simplistic text. Although at first, your child will be more interested in the story than the idea of reading, his desire for more storytelling will soon become a catalyst for him to learn how to read. Reading introduces your child to words, connecting what you say with text and mental stimulation through storytelling.
Start pointing to words as you read and regularly look at your child.
Use plain language rather than childlike words when communicating with your child.
Read Short Books with pictures and colors
Most of us learned our alphabet through the ABC song and your child is no different. At first your child will repeat some unintelligible version of the song and this is perfectly ok, through repetition they will learn the actual letters. To encourage them buy toys that repeat the song (or can speak the letter) so they can connect the songs with a written version of the letter.
Since visual speech influences word and letter recognition, continue to read books to your child but also begin pointing to letters and words while out and about and encourage your child to repeat after you.
Toys and games which verbalize the alphabet or videos which sing the alphabet song helps to encourage your child’s memory and will also be effective in promoting Letter Recognition in the future
See Reading-0 on the Resources Page
Letter recognition is a matter of repetition of the alphabet in visual form. The idea is to help your child understand that the alphabet song actually has a textual framework.
- Point to letters, shapes and colors in your surroundings or while on outings
- Encourage your child to learn to spell or recognize his or her name by putting labels with his name on items around the house
- NOTE: While teaching letter recognition I also began teaching number, shape and color recognition and used many of the same procedures
- Preschool Prep “Meet the alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers’ DVD
- Leapfrog “Go to School”
- Mobile Applications teaching ABCs
- Flash cards and toys (like Leapfrog Touch Magic Learning Bus) which incorporate the alphabet
- See Reading-1 and Math-0 on the Resources Page
- NOTE: I received the Little Touch Leap Pad as a gift and while I definitely enjoyed it, I wouldn’t pay $140 for it or recommend you do either)
Now that your child has learned the alphabet, it is time that they learn the sounds the letters make or as I like to call it phonetic cognition. Learning phonics is different from learning the alphabet because sometimes the name of the letter and the sound of the letter do not coincide (e.g. G, H, W, X).
- Encourage your child to make the letter sounds when using flash cards.
- Using Posters with pictures of well-known animals or items allow your child to identify the animal or item to hear the sound the first letter makes.
- Begin teaching your child to color or draw letters.
- Leapfrog “Letter Factory”, “Math Circus”
- Leapster Explorer or Leap Pad
- Mobile applications
- See Reading-1 and 2 and Math 2 on the Resources Page
In general, memorizing words is not a sound method for teaching a child how to read, but sight words is where I make the exception. Learning sight words is a critical step in teaching a child how to read because many sight words like ‘the, to do, what, again, said, and been’ are very common in the English language making up about 50% of the words we read in text. However, these words often do not follow the typical framework commonly taught in phonics. The best way to learn these words is through exposure and memory.
My favorite methods of teaching included using flash cards, playing sight words and Preschool Prep videos. I wanted my son to see the same word on different mediums to ensure recognition.
NOTE: Learning sight words takes time but once your child has learned sight words, he or she may be able to begin reading small books like those provided by Preschool Prep.
- Flash cards
- Sight word Bingo
- Preschool Prep videos and books
- Scholastic Little Learner Books
- See Reading-2 on the Resources Page
If your child has learned sight words, and has a good grasp of phonics, they can now comprehend how letters come together to make a single sound. Using this knowledge and the power of critical thinking they can begin to connect these theories to make new words.
Start by helping them to sound out simple words using the phonetic sounds of each letter. Ensure that you attempt to use only those words that follow simple phonetic rules and use short vowel sounds in order to not confuse your child. (i.e. do not use sight words, words with blends or words with long vowels sounds).
NOTE: At this time it is important to also begin teaching your child to write.
- Writing Workbooks
- Preschool Prep Sight Words Books
- Leapfrog “Talking words factory
- Mobile applications
- See Reading-2 and 3 on the Resources Page
Unlike learning from memory phonics helps to teach a child to think critically and apply what he has learned to other areas. Specifically, now that your child can recognize simple words with short vowel sounds and sight words, he can expand his learning to similar words.
- If they understand the word ‘AT’, give them a list of other words with the ‘at’ ending sound and allow them to read them: ‘B-at, C-at, F-at , H-at, M-at’
- Leapfrog Talking Words Factory
- Leapfrog Tag Reader and 5 Book Set
- Workbooks and printable worksheets from the web
- See Reading-3 on the Resources Page
Once your child has gained an understanding of the alphabet, basic phonics, and words with short vowel sounds, it is time to introduce blends, digraphs and other methods.
Long vowels is the logical next step and will require you to teach when a vowel is short and when it says its name. The rules in general are when a vowel is at the end of the word, two vowels are right next to one another in a word, and in the configuration of ‘vowel, consonant vowel’ and in particular when that last vowel is the silent ‘e’. But there are other instances where these rules are not followed (as in some sight words).
Blends are two consonants that come together but make their own sound as in: bl, tr, sc, cl, st and many others.
Digraphs are two consonants that come together to make one sound as in: ch, ck, th, sh, ph, ng, wh, wr, gn, kn. These words can sometimes be challenging as combinations may make words sounds that do not logically follow a phonetic patter such as ‘ph’. (I mean seriously who came up with that)
Similar to the ‘AT’ example where you changed the first letter of the word to make new similar words, here, instead I recommend using the digraph or blend to change the word.
For instance, using ‘St’ you can make the words: Stop, Start, Still, and Stun. Your child may also want to make up his own words that use the blend sound.
I cannot emphasize enough how valuable the Tag Reader is, but in this case it was extremely useful.
- Leapfrog Talking Words Factory, Learn to Read and Storybook Factory
- Leapfrog Tag Reader and 5 Book Set
- Hooked on Phonics Volumes 1 and 2
- See Reading-3-4 on the Resources Page
At first this may not make sense, obviously you know the information you are teaching, but scientific research suggests that our individual retention rate is 90% when we teach someone else which is higher than any other method of learning. (See the chart from the National Training Laboratories) Additionally, when your child believes she is teaching you she will work harder to ensure that she knows the material and will gain self confidence.
Whether you are using flash cards or reading a book, allowing your child to take responsibility for the information he or she has learned by allowing them to act as teacher or give you ‘help’ when you ‘miss a word’ will do wonders for his or her self confidence and encourage them to want to do more.