Five Simple Things You Can Do Today to Help Your Kids Become Amazing Readers!
One of the questions I hear most from parents of young students is, "I don't know how to teach reading!" Teaching a child to read is not all that difficult, and it's important to remember that reading/writing (and spelling) all go hand in hand.
I am going to talk about five simple things that you MUST DO to help your kids become proficient readers, writers and spellers. I have used these methods for years, both as a public and private school teacher, and as a homeschooling mom. Some links below are affiliate links. When I link to a product, you can be sure that I have used it myself and highly recommend it, or that I have heard such wonderful things about it, that I have to recommend it to you. As always, any proceeds made from my affiliate links go toward the upkeep of this site.
Five Simple Things You Can Do Today to Help Your Kids Become Amazing Readers
1. Read aloud to your kids. Do this as soon as, and as often as you can. The benefits are endless. If you are the kind of person who wants to learn more about the research, this book by Jim Trelease is amazing.
2. Model reading yourself. Countless studies have shown that children from families who read, ENJOY reading. These children do not see reading as just "another subject" to tackle.
3. Label things in your environment. Place a sentence strip like this one on every-day objects around the house. For example, you might want to label the "door", "table", "books", "bathroom", "bed", etc. Post a color chart and a number chart in a visible place where your child can see them every day. Before you know it, your child will know how to spell these important words without you ever having to give them a spelling test! (I am not, and never have been, a fan of spelling "lists" and tests.) The research proves why.
4. Teach phonics. Yes. Do it. There is a continual debate among educators about phonics: whether to teach in context or in isolation; to teach in the early years only, or continue through middle school; to not teach at all and use a "sight word only" approach instead... Here's my experience as an educator for over twenty years: Teach phonics. Teach phonics, BUT do NOT leave out steps #1, #2 and #3 above. The simplest of approaches when you teach phonics is often the best. We loved the BOB Books, and these little readers from CHC. I have also heard good things about the Life of Fred readers (link below.)
We did use the All About Spelling program and loved this. It is a fun, multi-sensory program which teaches phonics and spelling patterns. We did not use the All About Reading program, but I have heard wonderful things about this, which is why I am adding it here. The product links are above. Check them out. These were created by an educator and mother of a son with severe dsylexia.
5. Make it fun. Please, I beg of you, do not treat reading as another "subject" that you "have to do every day." Nothing can turn a kid off from reading like that. Play with letters and words and create stories together using fun table-top pocket charts like this one which focuses on beginning sounds, this one which is all about word families, or this one which focuses on ending and vowel sounds. After you have fun with these, you can create your own stories together using story strips like these. When I was teaching in the elementary classroom, I used large versions of all of these types of pocket charts. They even sell these for math concepts, which I'll post about another time. Kids love being active learners! Let them move about, manipulate objects and learn to read and spell all while having FUN!