First Steps in Teaching Your Child To Read

for-readingLearning how to read is very much like building the foundation of a house: you start with one block or concept and you add on to it, over and over, until you have a strong foundation on which to build the rest of your house.

Laying the foundation for reading should start well before your child enters school. If your child can develop basic reading skills and a love for books before they begin school, there is less of a chance that they will fall behind and become resistant learners.

Teaching your child how to read can seem like a daunting task, where do you begin? Story time, of course! Approximately 1/3 of material in the English Language uses 25 simple words – the longest of which is 4 letters long. In fact, most English material use about 100 words. If your child learns these, they are well on their way to being able to read by themselves.

Here are the top 25 words: For a full list, see the wiki article here

  • the
  • be
  • to
  • of
  • and
  • a
  • in
  • that
  • have
  • I
  • it
  • for
  • not
  • on
  • with
  • he
  • as
  • you
  • do
  • at
  • this
  • but
  • his
  • by
  • from

The problem with teaching these words by themselves is that many of them can not be simply taught through self contained picture flashcards like many vocabulary words can. They need context and the best place to find it is within stories your child already knows and loves.

Here’s how:

Familiarize yourself with this list. Go through your child’s story and identify any of the 25 most common words. Depending on the age of your child, you may just want to focus on one word at a time.  Introduce the word to your child before you start reading.

  • Print the word on a blank piece of paper. Practice repeating it several times. You repeat the word, say it with your child, have your child practice saying the word all on their own. If they have trouble with pronunciation, repeat the steps.
  • Trace the letters in the word with your fingers, have your child do the same while saying the word.
  • Write a simple sentence on a piece of paper. Ask your child to point to the word in the sentence and say the word.

Next, read your child’s favorite story. When you get to the word you are focusing on, point to it as you say the word. Ask your child to help you say the word and help you look for it in the next few pages. When they spot it, have them help you say the word, then say it on their own. Once your child is familiar with the word you will be able to stop when you come to it and, just by pointing to it, have your child say the word. Then you can continue reading.

Once you introduce several words your child will naturally start to take over reading whenever they see words that they know. Pretty soon your child will be doing more reading then you are!

You can re-visit old books too! Books that you use to read to your child become new again as they learn more words and can begin helping you read them. Soon story time will involve your child reading to you.

How do you practice reading with your child? I would love to hear your ideas!

Posted in Activites/Games, Children's Development.

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