Sunday, April 3, 2011

Teaching Your Child to Read

There is no more important skill for a child to learn than that of reading. Everything depends on it from history to science and even math. Failing to instill a love of reading in a child, in my opinion, is tantamount to child neglect. While there are products and services such as Hooked on Phonics and Click N Kids are available to provide a structured guidance for parents who would like some professional assistance in teaching their child how to read, I'd like to share some of the simple methods we've used that have resulted in our oldest craving the written word.

  1. Start early! I'll never forget the looks Chanel gave me when I started sitting down with our oldest with letter flashcards when he was about 6 months old. It's never too early to start, so long as they are willing participants. Their forming brains react to and grow from stimulation and even simple letter cards provide plenty. Mix up the interactions with the cards, too. For example, instead of showing the cards sequentially, lay out two or three in front of your child and ask where each letter is. You'll be able to monitor progression in the level of recognition this way.
  2. Add the alphabet to your routine at night. As our oldest started to move past recognition of the letters to being able to recite them, I started a short-term tradition of saying the alphabet in the bath. One of the bath toys was especially helpful: foam letters. They also came with numbers, but every one of them when wet would stick to the side of the tub. (On a side note, they also provided an indicator to when it was time to clean the tub as they tended not to stick so well after a while). Then, when we were putting the letters away, we'd try to take them out of the tub and put them on the shelf in order.
  3. Visit your local library early and often. After your child has moved past some of the fundamentals like the alphabet, it is imperative that they be surrounded with the written word to be comfortable with it. Participate in your library's activities for children whenever possible to build a positive association for the place. Familiarize yourself with the kids' section and checkout a variety of books to have them around the house. Since there are books on every topic, figure out what excites your tyke and get books on it. Cars? Plenty of books. Animals? Yours for the asking! The universe is at your fingertips...don't you want to pass it down to your kids? 

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