Thursday, January 7, 2016

Teaching Together: Learning To Read {January 2015}

Welcome to the January edition of Teaching together!
January is month #4 of Teaching Together. How has it been that long?!
We would love to invite you to join us the first Thursday of the month in 2016!

This month you are going to get a big fat dose of what is on my mind lately, and that is teaching little Miss Emily to read. I didn't officially start teaching Marissa to read until she started Kindergarten, but I don't think her sister is willing to wait that long.

Today I want to talk about skills needed before a child begins to read, signs that they are ready and few ideas to get you started!

First of all I would like to add that before Marissa I had never taught or even watched a child learn to read. To say I was terrified doesn't even come close to summing it all up. Add in the fact that we were homeschooling so I was "doing this by myself" and I'm surprised I ever worked up the nerve to start.

Reading is an amazing foundation for a life time of learning.
I wanted a good foundation for our girls and I wanted it to start as soon as they were ready.

How do you know a child is ready to read?
#1 They know and can identify all of their alphabet letters.
#2 They know and can match all of the letters to the sounds they make. 

Once you have those two key pieces of the puzzle, you are ready to start putting things together.

Emily has known all of her letters and their sounds for a year now. For the sake of being honest I'll admit that I've just been lazy or distracted. I thought I would put off teaching her to read until about the same time her sister did, until she started teaching herself. 

As a second child who has been "home schooled" since she was 2, she is a sharp and fast learner. I would put worksheets at her desk for her to do and she would start sounding out the words. She would make letter sounds and write the letters down on paper spelling out words, correctly! I finally accepted the fact that not teaching her was doing her an injustice and we dove head first into learning. 

Where to start?
One of my favorite ways to start is to teach the child to blend two letter sounds using short vowel sounds only. I find the best (and cheapest) way to do that is to make your own flash cards.

Think BA, HA, ON, AT, CA, PI, GU and any other combo you can create.

I also picked up this book to work through with Emily. I didn't use this with her sister so I am excited to see how I end up liking it, or not. I'll try and update this once I develop a stronger opinion.

More ideas
We all know repetitive flash cards can be a bit boring, so here are a few ideas to mix things up a bit. 

Offer a reward if they can get (x) amount of flash cards right.

*Story Time
Find books that you can read together. Short books that have lots of words they can read in them. We have this set of abeka pre-k readers and they are the first books both of my girls have read.

 When the pieces are starting to come together phonics work books can be really helpful. We have been huge fans of Explode The Code Phonics. I have heard nothing but rave reviews about their curriculum and the amazing readers Explode The Code creates. I feel like the fact that I have a 7 year old reading 120+ words a minute and years beyond her reading level is a pretty huge testimony to their program as well.

*Play games
There are so many amazing phonics games out there that keep a childs attention and provide a fun way to learn. One of our favorites has been ABC cookies. This game is SO versatile and can be played for YEARS. From a toddler learning their letters to a young reader. Marissa even still enjoys playing this game with her sister.

Don't forget to encourage them along the way. A little encouragement goes a LONG way at this age.

Always remember what's easy for one child may not be easy for others and all kids learn at different levels and speeds. If your child is struggling to learn don't take it as a failure on their part or your own. Be creative and try several different approaches and techniques to find what works best for them. Never be afraid to seek out any help you may need. Those precious babies are always worth it.

Happy learning to read!

Do you have any tips to add?
Are or were you terrified to teach your child to read?

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