Hi , if you are looking to help your child to read then you have come to the right place. I will tell you why you should read to your child, common mistakes in teaching reading to children and how to teach a child to read in 11 easy steps. if you can act on what you read here, you can get started with your child’s reading journey. You will not get this information anywhere else, so let’s get started
Why You Should Read To Your Child
As a parent, you have many important priorities when it comes to your child. You need to keep your child safe, healthy, and loved. In today’s hectic world, we often spend so much time engaged on those priorities that we forget another critical area — mental stimulation. As parents, we need to engage our children’s minds as well as their bodies for them to grow and learn. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is through reading.
There are several reasons why you should read to your child. If you are already reading to your child daily then these reasons should strengthen your resolve:
- A carefully selected story challenges and engages your child’s mind. Through books, your child can not only re-live experiences in their own life but also learn and experience cultures which they don’t do in their day-to-day life.
- Reading out aloud demonstrates what good reading sounds like and provides a goal for the child’s literacy efforts. As your child learns to read, he or she will need role models to follow. Shouldn’t you be one of them?
- Sharing a variety of books improves your child’s knowledge of language including vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronunciation. The more your child knows about words and language then the more knowledge and experience she will have to draw upon while learning to read and the easier it will be for her to learn.
- Reading with your child helps the child connect print words and meaning. Children learn to read many words simply through repeated exposure. It is not enough to simply provide words and instead the words must also be placed in context
- Reading demonstrates how a book works, such as that we read a book from front cover to back cover and a page from top to bottom, and a line from left to right. Those of us with long experience with books take this knowledge for granted but young children need to learn these simple rules.
- A well-written story stimulates your child’s imagination and creativity which can foster their creative efforts and play
- Reading a variety of stories helps children learn how story structure and narrative works which will help in literacy as well as social interaction. Human beings use storytelling and narrative in our professional and personal interactions and the people who have the best grasp of the narrative technique are often the most successful in these areas. Give your child an edge.
- Making literacy a priority in your life will demonstrate its importance to your child so they will make it a priority in theirs. If your child never sees you read then why would they think it is important?
- Reading to a child also promotes physical contact as your child sits on your lap or cuddles beside you. It provides another opportunity to strengthen your bond with your child.
- Listening to the human voice can be very soothing and especially when it is the voice of a loved one. It can help lower stress levels and bring comfort.
- Children face many stresses during the day just as do adults. You might find taking the time to read to your child not only reduces their stress level but yours as well.
- You should make reading to your child a part of your regular daily routine but also include spontaneous opportunities as well. Not only will these moments draw you closer to your child and provide lasting memories but you are also giving your child benefits that will impact their entire life.
Common Mistakes in teaching reading to children
Now that we understand why you should read to your child, now let’s try to understand what are major mistakes parents make in getting their child to read
Mistake #1: Teaching Children Letter Symbols Before Their Sounds
This is the first major mistake that many parents make. When kids are small about 2-3 years, they are taught abc by buying a basic book. So they learn letter symbols before their phonetic sounds and create confusion to contradict the way the brain acquires language.
Mistake #2: Teaching Young Students the Names of Letters
Parents become very pleased when small kids can identify the name of each letter, but they don’t understand that it’s not a useful skill when children are first learning the fundamentals of reading. This is incorrect thinking. For letters, it’s all about their function.
Expecting a child to be good to read by teaching the names of letters is like expecting someone to make a shed knowing merely the names of the tools.
The best way to teach children to read is by teaching the sounds of the letters. For example: “a” of “apple.” This way of training gives children the foundational keys needed to build and read words. Children who attend Montessori schools master reading at a very early age because they first learn only the sounds of letters.
Mistake #3: Using Uppercase Letters When First Teaching Children to Read and Write
All the educational system has a fascination with the use of UPPERCASE letters when teaching the alphabet. Teachers primarily use uppercase letters to teach when a whopping 95% of the written word is lowercase!
Since 95% of written text is in lowercase, doesn’t it makes sense to teach young children aspiring readers lowercase letters first? It’s illogical and ineffective to teach with capital letters when only 5% of the written word is capitalized.
Another issue with capital letters is that it needs mostly two or more strokes to write. The uppercase letter “A”, for example, uses three strokes, whereas the lowercase letter “a” can be written in one movement without lifting the pencil. Lowercase letters flow. Uppercase letters have many breaks in them.
Some would argue that uppercase letters are easier and faster for children to write. This may be true in the short run, but not in the long run because for experienced writers, lowercase letters are faster and more efficient to write. Most importantly, writing with all uppercase is teaching improper grammar skills because, in the real world, only 5% of what we write is in capital letters!
Mistake #4: Confusing the child
We as parents try to overload the child at a very small age. Teaching too much at a time or unclearly can confuse children taking their first steps in reading. The best way is by presenting one skill at a time in a logical sequence. Teaching sequence is very critical while teaching reading `
In the English language, there are about 44 phonemes and 70 different ways to say those 44 phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of speech in a language that distinguishes one word from another. For example, the phonemes “b”, “p”, and “t” are the smallest units of speech in the words “cab”, “cap”, and “cat”.
Another way to explain this is, the English language has 26 letters, 44 speech sounds, and more than 70 common ways to spell those sounds.
At first, only the most common sounds of each of the 26 letters should be taught. Even though some letters make more than one sound (“c” for “cat” or “c” for “cent” for example), 80% of the time letter use conforms to the most common sound. So, we need to teach those other sounds and spelling rules later in the learning sequence.
Mistake #5: Teaching Children the ABC Song
This I would say is a mistake 99 % of parents make.
The ABC Song is not an effective tool to help the child to read
The power of the ABC Song lies in its rhythm and melody. There are issues with teaching ABC first like
· It uses the names of letters before their sounds.
· It uses the names of letters instead of their sounds.
· It uses the symbol of letters before the sound of those letters.
· It’s taught most frequently using uppercase letters.
· When taught using visual cues, it teaches too many things at once, which can confuse children when learning to read.
Teaching a short phonetic alphabet is much more effective than the ABC Song.
Phonetic songs can be harder to memorize than the ABC Song because, many times, the letter sounds do not rhyme like their names and they can be more difficult to pronounce. The extra effort required to master the sounds through song is well worth the effort as it forms a strong foundation to improve children’s reading skills. Even ESL (English as a Second Language) courses for adults use a phonetic approach. They do not learn the ABC Song.
Only after the child knows the sounds of the letters and can demonstrate the skill by identifying the initial sound of objects or pictures, they become ready to learn the names of the letters.
Eleven Steps in How to teach a child to read
Now that we understand the common issues in teaching children, let’s learn the steps that are needed to get your child to read
1) Get a good reading tracker
As in other areas of life, kids need incentives to accomplish reading. We ought to make reading fun and interesting for them. One of the best ways of doing this is with a reading tracker
With a reading tracker, attach a reward to the end goal or small rewards to small goals. Go out for ice cream when they get to a certain number. Buy them some toy or something when they read even more. Yes, we want our kids to read for the pure joy of reading, but who doesn’t like additional incentives.
So the first step you need to do is to get some sort of reading tracker that makes it fun so that children take and put a sticker on the number of lessons that they’ve done.
Keep a reward for different levels like three lessons, eight lessons, 11 lessons and so on. Declare some rewards at the start to motivate the child to reach different milestones. Rewards can be free rewards like getting an ice cream, a high-five party, getting your nails painted at home, have a treasure box full of goodies, small things that will make your child happier.
You know better what makes your child happier right. Keeping the child happy and excited is very important for the child to move ahead
2) Introduce Phonics and build phonemic Awareness
Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds which make up words. In the past few years, large amounts of research have improved the understanding of phonemic awareness and its importance in helping children learn to read.
There are numerous research studies conducted on all aspects of phonemic awareness, and its effect on the reading and spelling abilities of young children. The National Reading Panel of the US has stated that phonemic awareness helps children to learn to spell and improves children’s reading comprehension. Based on the research and reviews, they have concluded that teaching phonics and phonemic awareness produces better reading results than whole language programs.
When teaching phonemic awareness, children are taught the smallest units of sound called phonemes. Children are taught to focus on the phonemes and learn to manipulate the phonemes in words. Studies have identified phonemic awareness and letter knowledge as the two best school-entry predictors of how well children will learn to read during the first 2 years of instruction. In a review of phonemic awareness research, the National Reading Panel (NRP) identified 1,962 citations, and the results of their meta-analysis were impressive as stated in the NRP publication:
Overall, the findings showed that teaching children phonemes in words was highly effective under a variety of teaching conditions with a variety of
learners across a range of grade and age levels and that teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading much more than any method which does not use phonemic awareness (PA).
Specifically, the panel concluded that PA training was the cause of improvement in students’ phonemic awareness, reading, and spelling following training. The findings were replicated repeatedly across multiple experiments and thus provide converging evidence for causal claims.
As can be seen, teaching children phonemic awareness early on significantly improves their reading and spelling abilities. Furthermore, the NRP research stated that these beneficial effects of phonemic awareness teaching go well beyond the end of the training period. The NRP phonemic awareness research also found that the most effective teaching method was to systematically teach children to manipulate phonemes with letters and teaching children in small groups.
Phonemic awareness (PA) teaching provides children with an essential foundation of the alphabet system, and a foundation in reading and spelling. The NRP has stated that PA instructions are a necessary instructional component within a complete reading program.
Two other studies were done on phonemic awareness and its effects on reading abilities were ascertained. When the study was involving children aged 6 to 7 years old, researchers found that the children at the beginning of grade one who exhibited high phonemic awareness scored at least close to perfect in the vowel substitution task, compared to none in children of the same age group who could not read when they entered school. The research also affirmed that phonemic awareness differences before instruction predicted the accuracy of alphabetic reading and spelling at the end of grade one independent from IQ. Children with high phonemic awareness at the start of grade one had high reading and spelling achievements at the end of grade one; but, some of the children with low phonemic awareness had difficulties learning to read and spell. The study confirmed that phonemic awareness is a significant variable for the progress in learning to read.
Another study looked at phonemic awareness and emergent literacy skills of 42 children with an average age of 5 years and 7 months. The researchers indicated that relations between phonemic awareness and spelling skills are bidirectional where phonemic awareness improved spelling skills, and spelling influenced the growth in phonemic skills.
All these studies by the National Reading Panel and other research studies on the benefits of phonemic awareness affirm that children should be taught PA at a young age before entering school. This helps them build a strong foundation for learning to read and spell.
Introduction of phonics:
Phonics is an essential part of any good method of teaching children to read. Teaching Children phonics and helping them develop phonemic awareness is the key to mastering words, which is the primary key step toward successful reading. Children need to build up knowledge of the letters, the sounds represented by the letters, and the connection between sounds shaped by combining the letters where words are formed. This is an essential part of mastering reading and enabling children to become independent readers. By learning phonics and phonemic awareness, children get the ability to speak new words, develop clear articulation, improve spelling, and develop self-confidence.
When it comes to training your children to read, it needs to include three basic principles:
1) Reading for the child, whether it’s a word, sentence, or story, must appeal to your child’s interests.
2) Never force your child into reading, turning it into a negative “event” in their life. It should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
This will need a lot of patience on the part of the parents, and some creativity.
3) Teaching your child to read must start with teaching phonemes – the individual sounds which make up the words.
The basic process of phonemic awareness to children
Starts with teaching them the letters and letter sounds; then you teach the child to blend various letter sounds together to form words; which is then followed by reading sentences and simple stories. This is a logical progression where they develop accuracy in decoding words and pronouncing words. This method of teaching also enables the child to spell correctly. Slowly, the different elements of phonics are combined to create new words, and leads to the discovery of new words by the child using this process which becomes an “automatic reflex”.
Teaching phonics to children should take 10 to 15 minutes every day, and these “lessons” should take place in many small sessions each day – such as 4 or 5 sessions lasting 3 to 5 minutes each. For older pre-school children, lessons can be a little longer; however, several minutes per session is all that’s needed.
One way to start teaching phonics to children with ear training – by helping them understand that words are made up of smaller units of sounds or known as phonemes, and when you combine these sounds, a word is formed.
. The key, however, is consistency and patience.
During the short sessions, sound out words slowly and clearly. You can do this without even making the child conscious that you are trying to teach them. Simply take words from your everyday conversations to your child and include oral blending sounds into your sentences. For example, if you are asking your child to drink his milk, you could say: “Joe, d-r-i-n-k your m-ilk.” The words drink and milk are sounded out slowly and distinctly. The level of sound separation can be set by you to increase or lower the difficulty. Thus, if Joe has a tough time figuring out that d-r-i-n-k means drink, you can make it less difficult by blending the word as dr-ink instead.
Another way is to could simply pick different words and play blending sounds games with your child. You simply say the sounds of the word slowly and ask the
child to try to guess what you are saying.
This concept of individual sounds forming words may take some time for your child to grasp. Some children will pick it up quickly, while other children may take longer, but one certain thing is that if you keep it up, your child will catch on. Below are some example words which you can use to do blending sounds activities with your child.
The first word is more segmented than the second word and will be more difficult to sound out. Please note that hyphens are used to indicate the letter sounds instead of slashes.
ie: J-u-m-p /J/ /u/ /m/ /p/
This is done to make things easier to read; however, when you read it, you should not read the names of the letters, but instead, say the sounds of the letters. This type of ear training for phonics and phonemic awareness should continue throughout the teaching process, even well after your child has grasped this concept. It can be applied to words with growing difficulty. Again, please always keep in mind that not all children can readily blend the sounds to hear the word, so you must be patient, and do this for days, weeks, or even months if needed. Consistency and frequency is the key to success here
3) Alphabetic awareness
You need to introduce phonics in a particular way. A lot of phonics programs would start from ABC. You need to introduce this in a specific order so that when a child gets to read, they find it easier. In real-life reading, we need children to learn the words first they are most likely to encounter.
Teaching them abc order will push them back. So always understand that there is a specific order to teach them
Some programs start with vowels first and major consonants whereas others with letters like s, a, t as shown below
Practice this with your child for some till the child gets familiar
4) Getting the child to write:-
Get your child to write the same time they get to read. This is important as writing will complement their reading skills.
Children acquire a working knowledge of the alphabet not only through reading but also through writing. A classic study by Read (1971) found that even without formal spelling instruction, preschoolers use their implicit knowledge of phonological relations to spell words. Invented spelling (or phonic spelling) refers to beginners’ use of the symbols they associate with the sounds they hear in the words they wish to write. For example, a child may initially write b or bk for the word bike, to be followed by more conventionalized forms later on.
You may wonder whether invented spelling promotes poor spelling habits. On the contrary, studies suggest that temporarily invented spelling may contribute to beginning reading (Chomsky 1979; Clarke 1988). One study, for example, found that children benefited from using invented spelling compared to having the teacher provide correct spellings in writing (Clarke 1988). Although children’s invented spellings did not comply with correct ones, the process encouraged them to think actively about letter-sound relations. As children engage in writing, they are learning to segment the words they wish to spell into constituent sounds.
If you provide children with regular opportunities to express themselves on paper, without feeling too constrained for correct spelling and proper handwriting, it will, in turn, help their reading skills.
So Show them how to write letters, Grab a plain paper or a writing board and you can start off
Once child learn about alphabet sounds it’s time for the words to come together and blend
Both phoneme blending and alphabetic awareness skills are required for your child to be able to decode (read) words successfully. Numerous research studies show that the inability to read proficiently typically stems from no training or improper training in these skills. If your child’s reading is hesitant or choppy, be assured she needs practice with these two skills before moving on to the next levels, finally becoming a confident, successful reader.
The ability to read words requires mastery in what is called “phoneme blending” or “auditory reading”.Once your child has mastered phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle, he is ready to be trained in phoneme blending.
In phoneme blending, you would teach your child to turn the three sounds /d/ + /o/ + /g/ into the word ‘dog’. This blending technique doesn’t involve any letters. You can say two or three letter sounds in succession and ask the child what word those sounds make
Blending means that students are connecting the sounds together without stopping in between each sound. This can be a difficult skill for students to grasp. There are 3 types of sounds –continuous sounds, stop sounds and tricky sounds
CONTINUOUS SOUNDS-What are they?
Continuous sounds are usually the first that students learn when reading. They’re the sounds that are probably the easiest.
The letters that make continuous sounds are:
m, s, f, l, r, n, v, z
The pronunciation of these sounds is pretty straightforward. Make sure that the sound is a continuous one and that you’re not pronouncing them with a schwa sound at the end.
STOP SOUNDS-What are they?
The letters that make stop sounds are:
b, c, d, g, p, t, k, j
When you say these stop sounds, there is often a little puff of air. The sound should stop when the child feels the air. Try it with the /p/ sound. It’s the easiest to feel. Do you feel the little puff of air? That little puff of air occurs with the other stop sounds, too, but it’s a little more difficult to feel.
TRICKY SOUNDS- WHAT ARE THey?
Some sounds are just plain tricky. They may be a combination of stop or continuous sounds or they may be pronounced differently in different reading programs or even in different areas of the country.
The tricky sounds are:
h, w, y, x,
You must learn how to say these correctly before teaching the child
Steps to learn blending
1)Start with continuous words
Always start with continuous words, these are easiest and they will give them more confidence. As children become more comfortable you can add more words
2)Add Stop words after continuos word
Once they are comfortable with step 1, add stop words. Start by using the stop sounds at the end of a word, like mat. The child can quickly stop blending at that final sound. As they become capable of blending continuous sounds, move onto blending stop sounds at the beginning of words, like cat. When blending with stop sounds at the beginning of the word, prompt them to blend the stop sound with the continuous sound next to it. For instance in cat, the ca to be blended.
3)Connect the sounds
As children are blending words, they should not pause between them. They should seamlessly connect through all the words. Listen and make sure they are doing the same
4) Continuous sound should be elongated
Continuous words should be overemphasized so that difference between a stop and continuous becomes clear to the child.
5) More practice:- It’s all about the practice. The more child practices, the better it will get. Blend it several times with different set of words
6) Phoneme Segmenting and Word Building
Segmentation is an essential skill for helping children become great readers.
There have been numerous classrooms and studies that have demonstrated the benefits of segmentation practice for emerging readers.
it can be a difficult skill to learn, but that the rewards and benefits are well worth the efforts. Here words are broken down into their sequential letter sounds. It’s like spelling by sounds instead of with letters.
An example of practicing this skill with your child is presenting an image of a cat and saying, ‘cat’ – /c/ /a/ /t/, then asking her to say it with you, ‘cat’ – /c/ /a/ /t/.
Phoneme segmenting abilities is the marker many educators use to determine whether kindergarten to first-graders will be successful in reading. If they have difficulty segmenting words, they will be plagued with problems reading.
Go from Segmenting to Word Building
The best way to help prepare your child to decode words is to practice word building with 3-letter phonetic CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.
CVC words are the basic, three-letter words that are the stars of easy readers and first books.
In this definition, the C stands for “consonant” and the V stands for “vowel;” therefore, CVC words begin with a consonant, have a single letter vowel sound, and end with a consonant. They’re easy to sound out because they don’t include any of the diphthongs or other complications of the English language.
These words also all use the “short” vowel sound associated with each of the five vowels, so you don’t have to worry about confusing your children with differentiating between long and short vowels. CVC words are about as simple as it gets, which makes them the perfect place to start your reading lessons. That is why these CVC words are important building blocks for your child’s reading journey
Word building is encoding, which also includes segmenting skills and alphabetic principle knowledge. Word building first requires a child to segment out a word, like “bat”, into its three sounds. The next step requires placing the corresponding three letters in the proper sequence, “b”, “a” and “t”. Don’t confuse this process with spelling. The goal of word-building is to strengthen your child’s understanding of how the sequence of letters in printed words represents the sequence of sounds in spoken words. Word building strengthens your child’s concept of the alphabetic principle at the word level.
There are ways to teach children how to read cvc words. Also, there are a lot of fun ways that you can teach them
There are a lot of CVC worksheets available which you can use for this
Once the child has a proper understanding of sounds, it’s time to bring them together. So the next step is to move into a small text called decodable text.
Decodable words are the easiest to learn. Students say the sound of each grapheme in the word and then blend it
Examples are mat, cap, can, tap.
Once they understand the sounds these will come naturally to the child.
At this step, you need to catch hold of some decodable textbooks and give it to the child
You can get it online. Try searching and download for your child or get it from the nearest store
Once the child has a proper understanding of the decodable text, it’s time to move to major part-sentences. This can be tough as the child needs to bring everything together now
Write the letters on a board and teach how these come together
The cat can fly
Stop at the spaces in between and stop at the end. Start very slow first and increase speed slowly to get into more sentences
Start with easy 3 letter sentences of the most common words your child speaks
Do it for 3-4 days and then move to 4 letter sentences
This can take some time. Be patient and your child will improve in 2-3 weeks
There are many words in English known as high-frequency words, which are not phonetically reproducible, so children can’t sound them out. That means that they just have to learn them by sight, hence the name sight words. Other terms for sight words include star words, core words, and popcorn words. ( popcorn- because these words “pop up” so frequently in reading and writing.)
So Sight words are those words that appear most frequently in our writing and reading. Many times these words do not have a concrete image that accompanies them. These are high-frequency words that may not be able to be sound out or picture, and hence, they simply must be memorised and understood. Because of their high regularity, children need to be able to recognise and understand them almost at once upon seeing them
Sight words are important as there are only 100 words or so that make up more than fifty percent of most text that early readers read. These are the words like ‘a’, ‘I’, ‘or’, ‘and’, ‘the’ and so on. They are usually small and easily recognised, and the spelling of these words is not always straightforward about how they sound
The sight words also have words that are phonetically spelled but are still high frequency that it makes a lot of sense for children to know them by sight.
The Dolch Sight Words list is the most commonly used set of sight words. Educator Dr. Edward William Dolch developed the list in the 1930s-40s by studying the most frequently occurring words in children’s books of that era. The list contains 220 “service words” plus 95 high-frequency nouns.
As per Dolch, there is a specific order to teach sight words. There are a set of 40 basic sight words PreK student needs to learn,kindergarten-52 words, first-grader- 41 words, second grader-46 words, and third grader-41 words
These are the lists for the child to learn at each age
There are different ways of teaching sight words to kindergarten and pre-k. The best way is to play sight games with children and get them to learn.
So even though sight words can seem a little bit tricky to teach at first, there are things you can do to make it easier. Make learning sight words fun and interesting for your child and take forward the learning journey
10) Engagement with worksheets
Get some worksheets on reading and get the child engaged with the words. Once the child is familiar with sentences he will want to learn more and read more.
Take it to next level to make it engaging and playful for the child so that he does not feel like it’s work. You can go online to find this or pick it up from the nearest store.
Now that child is familiar with sentences, the last step is to introduce word family.
Word families are groups of words that have a common feature or pattern – they have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound. For example, at, cat, hat, and fat are a family of words with the “at” sound and letter combination in common.
The 37 most common word families in English are ack, ain, ake, ale, all, ame, an, ank, ap, ash, at, ate, aw ay, eat, ell, est, ice, ick, ide, ight, ill, in, ine, ing, ink, ip, it, ock, oke, op, ore, ot, uck ,ug, ump, unk.
Start with short vowel a
ham Sam ram bam dam jam Pam yam
Letters a and m are the easiest for beginner readers to learn. So choose this family to teach children first.
cat mat sat fat rat bat hat pat vat
can, Dan, fan, man, pan, ran, van
bad dad had lad mad pad sad
All these words have what we call a short vowel a in the middle of them. The short a sounds like the way we say aaa at the beginning of the word apple.
Once the child understands what particular sounds the letters make and how to form the letters they will be able to spell them as well as read them.
Once child is clear with shortvowel a its time to move to e
bet get jet let met net pet set vet wet
bed, fed, led, Ted, Jed
Ben, den, hen, Jen, men, pen, ten
At the early stages the words should only contain three letters. For young readers that is plenty to concentrate on.
Next, you move to words with other vowels like i,o,u
Many of the nursery rhymes contain common word families. You can use these rhymes to teach these letter combinations by having the students sound them out after memorizing the rhyme.
These are the eleven steps needed in getting your child to read. Now that you know what is needed, start working on it 10-15 minutes every day to see great results in your child’s reading abilities. But remember different children have a different pace of learning. So encourage, facilitate and motivate them in this learning journey