There are as many ways to teach a child to read as there are little brains that need teaching. That’s what the literacy experts are charged with figuring out. How to make sure everyone gets a fair shot at learning to read.
But let's say you’re not a literacy expert. You’re ‘just’ a parent. Do you really need to know all that stuff to teach your child to read? In many cases, no. All you need is a simple, six-step process to turn your child into an independent reader.
That’s the cool thing about phonics. It’s sequential, and it’s easy. If you just follow the six steps below, most children can easily learn to read.
Even if you ONLY complete the first two steps of your six-step reading program, your child will start first grade at the head of his or her class. But please let your child take all the time he or she needs. Stick with your program and over time you will see results.
6 Steps for Teaching Your Child to Read:
First, teach your child the sound of each of the letters of the alphabet. Before your child can learn to read, she must be familiar with the sounds of the letters. Knowing the name of each letter is not necessary. In fact, throughout the process of teaching your child to read, you will want to refer to the letters only by their sounds—never by their names. When I was teaching my kids to read, I’d say “Let’s do some sounds.” If you don’t know how to pronounce the sounds of each letter, use my free eBook: Can I Teach My Child to Read? A Parent’s Guide to log in to my reading program (also for free!) so you can hear how each sound is pronounced.
Once your child knows all of the individual letter sounds, he will be ready to learn how to read. In STEP 2, you will add sounds together to make words. Combine individual sounds of the letters to form words that are familiar to your child. Once your child 'gets' how to sound out a few simple words, he or she will officially know how to read!
After reading short words, you will move on to practicing phonetic blends, such as 'sh,' 'th' and 'ing.' In this step, your child will become familiar with the unique sounds of combined letters. The object of this lesson is for your child to recognize instantly that the sounds of the letters he now knows so well change when they are arranged in certain combinations. (For example, 's' and 'h' sound quite different when combined into 'sh.') Other than introducing new blends, STEP 3 works exactly like STEP 1.
The combined sounds that your child now knows will enable him to read LOTS of words. You will see this everywhere you go! STEP 4 proceeds exactly like STEP 2, only the words will include the blends your child has now learned.
Now you need to introduce the difficult concept of the long vowel sound: the 'a' sound in cake, the 'e' sound in green, the 'i' sound in ride, the 'o' sound in tote, and the 'u' sound in blue. Although the concept is complex, your child has already mastered a task far more difficult—the basic ability to read. You will be surprised at how quickly your child catches on to this new concept. But as your child’s teacher, this step could be a bit tricky for you. In Teach Your Child to Read™, we use a proprietary method to do this. If you aren’t quite sure how to introduce this concept, you may want to refer to a teaching program for guidance.
Now your child is ready to read! Take a look at the Bob Books or Dr. Seuss—two great book series that contain ‘phonetically correct’ words that your child will be able to read—and enjoy.
Can I REALLY teach my child to read in six steps?
If it sounds like I’m oversimplifying, look closely at the six steps above. Do they make sense to you? Sure they do. You can easily figure out how to get started. All you need is a dry-erase board and a wipe-off cloth and you’re ready to begin. Don’t feel like you need to know everything before you begin. Just start with STEP 1.
And if you want to make it easy on yourself, sign up for a free trial of Teach Your Child to Read™. Everything you need to know is in the program. You can either stick with the program or learn from the program and do it on your own, but you CAN teach your child to read.
So what is the worst case scenario if you give it a try? Nothing happens. No harm, no foul. But try thinking big. Imagine the best case scenario. How will you impact your child’s life by giving your son or daughter an early start on this most crucial skill? I think we all know the answer to that one.
Blog about Reading, Writing and Kids: Musings, stories and tips about teaching children to read and writing books for children.
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Writer, marketing consultant and author: Teach Your Child to Read™. Online, phonics based reading program.
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