Teaching Your Child to Read
4-Step Framework for Teaching your Child to Read
Have you noticed your toddler has begun pointing out alphabet letters on signs and in books? Or, maybe your preschooler has become obsessed with "reading" books.
Many parents want to follow their child's interest but don't know where to start.
It's common to rush out and buy a set of beginning reader books, but then wonder, "How do I teach my child to actually read them?!"
The Playful Path to Reading™ takes the guesswork out of helping your child learn to read. It's a step-by-step preschool reading program that shows you how to create invitations to play that build essential early literacy skills.
When you know the steps to take to set up your child for success with reading, it's a pretty straightforward process.
One concept is introduced at a time, and each new activity builds on what your child already knows. The focus is on exploration so that learning to read is a joyful process of discovery.
There's no time-consuming crafts to prepare, no boring worksheets that suck the joy out of learning to read and no edutainment apps that get your preschooler hooked on gold stars for correct answers.
Instead, you'll offer hands-on and engaging activities that gently pull your preschooler towards reading. Easy and fun literacy games develop pre-reading skills for their own sake. This alleviates the pressure on you to "teach" and the pressure on your child to "learn".
The key is providing the right experience at just the right time to meet developmental needs, and then trusting your child's natural inclination to absorb language and do the work he or she is driven from within to do in order to become a fluent reader.
STEP 1: Play sound games to develop phonemic awareness.
Long before you introduce any alphabet letter symbols, you need to play sound games to help your child develop phonemic awareness.
Specifically, your child needs to be able to:
hear the sounds in spoken words
understand that words are made up of sounds in a row
blend sounds to make words
segment words into their sounds
There is a series of sound games to play to develop phonemic awareness, but you can get started this week by focusing on beginning sounds in spoken words. Most children who are around 2.5 to 3 years old are ready to start playing sound games.
STEP 2: Associate sounds with letter symbols.
Once it’s clear that your child understands that words are made up of sounds in a row and he or she can consistently identify the sounds in words, it's time to present lowercase tactile letters representing the alphabet letters and the key phonogram sounds. The key phonograms are 16 pairs of letters (ai, ar, au, ee, er, ie, oa, oo, or, ou, oy, ue, ch, sh, th and qu) that make a new sound.
Children learn best through hands-on experiences that involve the senses and movement. During the letter-sound association game, your child will trace a lowercase tactile letter and say its sound. This helps your child develop muscular, visual and auditory memory of what the alphabet letters (and the 16 key phonograms) look like and sound like.
STEP 3: Build words using a moveable alphabet.
At this stage, your child has all the skills needed to put sounds in a row to build words. Since he or she knows the letter sounds as well as the letter pairs for the 16 key phonogram sounds, your child can "write" any word he or she wants!
A moveable alphabet gives your child the opportunity to write words while he or she is working on developing the pencil grip. Many 3 and 4 year old children are capable of building words by sounding it out before their hand is physically ready to form the letters with a pencil on paper. A moveable alphabet takes the pressure off!
You can expect your child to spell words phonetically rather than correctly, but that's ok at this stage. The focus is on expressing thoughts and ideas.
STEP 4: Read phonetic words, phonogram words, sight words and then phrases and sentences.
Although you will never ask your child to sound out what she or he has "written" with the moveable alphabet, soon your child will realize that whatever is written can be read. Children usually start to read spontaneously about six months after they start building words with a moveable alphabet.
This is the perfect time to introduce the three keys to reading: phonetic words, phonogram words and sight words. A series of activities that involve movement and feel like games provide opportunities for your child to practice reading words, phrases and then sentences.
With practice, your child’s reading will become more fluid as the process of decoding becomes automatic. Your child will soon be able to decipher words and also understand the meaning or context of what he or she is reading. When your child begins to read expressively and with inflection, you’ll know he or she also understands the sentiment. Eventually your child will be able to read something silently and have a conversation about it, sharing his or her knowledge with other people.
I'm guessing you're feeling both excited and a bit intimidated about teaching your child to read.
Hopefully, you're feeling less overwhelmed now that you've got a big picture view of the steps to follow!
If you just don't have the time or energy to pull it together on your own, get yourself on the waiting list for The Playful Path to Reading™ so you can move forward feeling confident.
This step-by-step preschool reading program shows you exactly what to do, how to do it, what to use, what to expect, why each activity is important for early literacy and when to move on to the next step.
With a clear plan for helping your child learn to read, you'll feel confident even if you have zero teaching experience!
Enrollment opens soon! Learn more and join the waitlist.
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About the Author
I'm Lisa Adele, an AMI-trained Montessori teacher and the creator of The Playful Path to Reading™. I help parents of preschoolers use hands-on activities to develop early reading skills.