Teaching Your Child to Read

Reading is an essential skill. Learning to read is the most important (and sometimes the most difficult) thing your child will ever do.

There are so many different ways to teach your child how to read. Many people use sight words; I don't like this method, and I'll tell you why in a minute. Other use Phonics, such as "Hooked On Phonics"...and many teach their children phonics but without the aid of any software. Here are my essential steps to teaching a child how to read.

Reading to your Child

Perhaps the most important step in teaching your child to read is to read to her! Children learn a love for books and stories from the books you read to them when they are little. The initial love for reading starts early. If you read to your children every day from the time they are 2 years old, they will be so excited about learning to read on their own, that it will be easy to teach them to read.

My 2 year old loves books right now! By reading to her, or having one of my older children read to her, this love of books will carry over into her preschool and kindergarten years, and she will enjoy learning to read.

Reading to your child also improves his vocabulary; he will hear new words in each story, and either determine the meaning of the word from the pictures, or he will ask you what the word is. Reading to your child is a perfect way to increase vocabulary!

Of course, reading to your child has other wonderful benefits. It's special time with your child, making your bond stronger. Reading to your child shows her other aspects of her world that she wouldn't otherwise see.

Teaching Phonics

IMHO, phonics is the best way to teach a child to read. The English language is a complicated one; if you teach your child how to read using phonics, they will be able to sound out most words.

Here's how I teach my kids how to read. I start off with the alphabet, of course...the letters, how to write the letters, and recognizing. That's the first step.

Next, I start the individual letter sounds. Once my child has most of the letter sounds down, I concentrate on the vowel sounds, while stressing that all words have to have a vowel in them. We will start forming small words with only 3 letters, and learning how the sounds work together to make a word.

Once my child grasps the concepts of the letter sounds working together, the next step in teaching my child to read using phonics is to start teaching her how paired letters make different sounds. This is when I introduce combination sounds like ch, sh, ai, ou, ow, etc...at this stage, keep the letter combinations to 2 letters only, and only introduce a couple of the combinations at a time.

Once your child grasps the first couple of letter combination sounds, you can begin to introduce simple words that implement one letter combination and simple letter sounds. For example, chin, or ship both have one letter combination; chair would not be a good word to use yet, because it has 2 letter combinations.

Once your child has mastered the words with one 2-letter combinations in it, you can move on to the words that have more than one: chair, chow, shower, chain...and etc.

The next step in teaching your child to read is to move on to other sound combinations. I start off with the vowel-consanant-e rule...the word cave for example. because there's an a, then the v, ending with an e, the a says it's name. I teach this rule because it's almost always true.

Once your child has mastered the above rules, teach your child the more complicated combinations: -igh, -ing, -ight, etc.

Sight Words Don't Help Teach Your Child to Read

I don't agree with the idea of using sight words for many reasons, but the most important reason is that memorizing words doesn't teach reading at all. Too many people pass through school memorizing words, but not being able to read a single thing. Children need to know phonics in order to read. Yes, the English language is tricky, and complicated, but we have to teach our children to read using phonics.

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