Teaching children to read is an art form. It takes time and patience to help a child with this special skill. I have been a music teacher for over 15 years, but teaching my own children to read was not easy for me. Here is what I learned by teaching my own children to read before they entered kindergarten. You can help your child learn to read in 20 minutes a day or less!
1. Read to Them Everyday
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This may seem like a no brainer, but if you want your child to learn to read you should read to them everyday. I know it’s difficult when you have to read Green Eggs and Ham for the 551st time, but it will be worth it. There are some really great children’s book series out there today and you and your child can have a blast discovering them together. This is a great opportunity to get them to the library to find some books you both love. Librarians can also be a great resource if you are tired of the same old books. If you had a long day and are too tired to read, Storylineonline.net has some great stories read by famous people they can watch.
Here are some of my family’s favorite picture books. They keep my children, my husband and me entertained.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Pigeon Series)
I Really Like Slop (Elephant and Piggie series)
2. Teach the Alphabet and Letter Recognition
Once your child is old enough to start singing with you, you can sing alphabet songs together. The easiest one being the Alphabet Song. I also love Greg and Steve’s ABC rock. Once your child can recite their ABC’s, then they are ready to start recognizing them. This is usually between 18 months and 3 years of age. You can spend time together finding letters around your home, in books, on street signs, and business signs. Pretty soon your child will readily point them out to you when you are out and about or driving around in the car. There are also plenty of great books that focus on the alphabet.
3. Teach Letter Sounds
The next step in helping your child learn to read is to help them learn the sounds that letters make. You can do this as you talk about different words and the beginning sounds of the word. My kids loved watching the DVD Meet the Letters. Another great DVD is Rock N Learn’s Letter Sounds. Kids also like websites that help with letter sounds such as Starfall.com and ABC mouse.com
Before you really get into the nitty gritty part of teaching your child to read, spend some time reviewing the first 3 steps in this process. Make sure your child can easily identify their letters and the sounds that they make. Once you have done that you are ready for step 5.
5. Get the Help of An Expert
Despite the fact that I am a teacher, I have never taught a child to read and had no prior training in this. I was nervous about how to teach my own child to read and I wanted to do it the right way. I decided to do some research and get the help of an expert. My husband and I discussed purchasing a phonics program, enrolling our daughter in a program at the local university or using a book. In the end we decided to use the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann and Phyllis Haddox. During the first few lessons I will admit that I was skeptical about this method, but it worked perfectly. The lessons can be done easily in 20 minutes a day or less.
It has now been two years since we completed the book with my daughter and she is now one of the top readers in her first grade class. I knew we picked the right book when I was talking to a mom friend of mine about it and she told it was the same books he used with her son. He is now in college studying engineering. Now that is an endorsement.
6. Have Patience and Take Breaks
Teaching children to read is difficult and it can be time consuming. The best way to get through it have patience with them. Young children like to move around, so be sure to take plenty of breaks and do the reading lessons at a time of day when your child is most ready to learn.
7. Pick a Reward or Goal
The book I recommended will take you a good 3 months to complete if you work diligently on the lessons everyday. It is a big deal when your child finally learns to read. When our daughter finished the reading lesson book and was reading on her own we felt it was time to give her a big reward. We chose to bring her to Chuck E. Cheese for an evening of fun and games. I highly recommend picking a big reward for your child when they can read on their own. You can either let them pick ahead of time and let them work for it or surprise them with it at the end like we did with our daughter.