How many of us have decided not to do some very necessary thing with or for our child because we simply didn’t have the energy to argue, tolerate, and negotiate through his or her resistance in that moment? *Raises hand enthusiastically and prays to God that I’m not the only parent who occasionally lets their kid go to be with funky breath just to avoid the drama*
Teaching your kids how to read can definitely be “one of those things”.
Let’s be real. It’s 2015. And in 2015 there are about 197849349837249387 other things kids might be more interested in doing than learning to read. Shoot! It’s A LOT of grown people who would prefer to do those 197849349837249387 things, rather than teach their kid how to read. If you’re one of those parents please believe that I’m not judging you (says the parent with the occasionally funky breathed sleepy child.) Parents are busy these days. Kids THINK they are busy these days. So this reading stuff might very well be interrupting everybody’s regularly scheduled programming AND on top of that sometimes it can be a frustrating task. So I think a lot people just avoid it or never get around to it and trust that our children will learn when they get to school.
The only thing is…when we do that we throw our children at the mercy of the (Public) Education System or Gingivitis (if you’re like me). Lord help us! It sounds really scary when you put it like that, doesn’t it? Like the first line of a horror film starring our kids! I can be dramatic so let me back up and rephrase that: A lot of children, especially children of color, whose only exposure to reading occurs at school are falling behind at alarming rates. And those “rates” have some very scary long-term implications for our children.
Reading is an important thing. The only problem is that it can be frustrating trying to teach your child something you’ve been doing so long that you forgot how you even learned to do it. And THE LAST thing you want to do is create a culture of frustration around your child’s education. To help ease some of the drama and frustration in teaching your children to read I have written out a step by step guide on how I taught my son to read.
There is more than one way to teach a child to read! That’s why I named this post “How I Taught My Son to Read BEFORE Kindergarten”.
I did NOT name it any of the following things:
- THE ONLY WAY ON EARTH TO TEACH A HUMAN BEING TO READ
- THE PERFECT WAY TO TEACH A PERSON HOW TO READ
- THE BEST WAY TO TEACH A LIVING BEING TO READ
Thank You, Management
Now that we got that out of the way…
First, are the rules for all you Wonder Parents out there! (And you thought this was just about the kids!):
- On your mark. Get set. DO NOT GO! This is not a race. Calm down. Take off your running shoes. Forget that the title subliminally suggests that we ARE racing to beat the educational clock—I just named it that so you would read it. The truth is that our goals should be to develop a solid and strong foundation. Like all things built to last, it’s going to take some time. Think SLOW and STEADY. Your child may actually be behind but they will never catch up without a solid foundation. We (parents) have got to be more concerned with improvement than achievement.
- Figure out where is your child…and be ok with it. Wherever they are, it’s a great place to start. Whether they are still on their ABC’s or they are reading Shakespeare—it’s fine. Forgive your children if they are not where you want them to be. Forgive yourself if they are not where you want them to be. Remember Rule #1.
- Start with the letter A…literally and figuratively. I know that seems simple but a lot of people don’t really get this part as well as they think they do. I simply mean start at the beginning and don’t skip important foundational principals. I am realizing that many people don’t always recognize foundational principles because they are so ingrained in the way adults process information. For example, the difference in the way we say “bit” and “bite”. It really takes like 27 separate pieces of information to be able to correctly distinguish between those words and we don’t even think about it. I did my best to write out every piece in a logical progression for you guys.
- Have realistic expectations for your children. First of all, set realistic time limits on daily lessons. We do thirty minutes of a lesson and thirty minutes of reading a day. Even grown people have a hard time paying attention for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Second, they are little human beings. They are going to make mistakes and they probably aren’t going to be prodigies in every single area. That being said, a lot people are not clear on what a child is supposed to know or be able to do at a given age or grade.
There’s a few ways to help with this:
(a) Find out what’s developmentally age appropriate. A quick Google search can help with that.
(b) Ask their schools and teachers for the learning goals that they have set for the school year or if you have younger children get some information from your local school district about what they should know before they start kindergarten.
(c) Ask your child’s teacher if she or he has any concerns about your child’s performance or if she can identify any areas for improvement.
- Set small goals. This is the one time you shouldn’t focus so much on the bigger picture. It can be daunting and discouraging. It also might encourage you to breeze past foundational principles and push them past reasonable expectations. So forget the “bigger picture” and focus on small victories instead. Remember that we should be more concerned with improvement than achievement.
- Be consistent. This is pretty self-explanatory. And I know I told you how important it is to be consistent in my post about helping your kids in school…BUT, don’t use this as an excuse to stop doing it simply because you are struggling with being consistent about it. Every little bit helps! If you can’t be consistent on a daily basis, do what you can when you can and forgive yourself for the rest. This is also not a pass to excuse yourself from MAKING time for these kinds of things. But you get the point!
Once I could CONFIDENTLY, without a shadow of a doubt say “Yes, my child can DEFINITELY do that in his sleep!” then I moved on to the next thing. Also, we worked on these skills everyday for 30 minutes and then did 30 minutes of reading:
(1) My child can say the alphabet.
(2) My child understands that L, M, N, O, P are all separate letters.
(3a) My child can recognize each upper case letter.
(3b) My child can recognize each lowercase letter.
(3c) My child understands that “A” and “a” are the same letter. *Along with all the other 25 upper case/lower case letter combinations “B” through “Z.”
(4) My child knows each consonant sound and each short vowel sound.
CONSONANTS: B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, (Y), Z
VOWELS: A, E, I, O, U, (Y)
(5) My child can read simple words, with short vowel sounds that are spelled exactly the way they sound.
CAT: C (KAH) – A (AH) – T (TUH)
DOG: D (DUH) – O (AW)- G (GUH)
More examples of simple words: BIT, PET, TIP
At this stage I stayed away from words that:
- are longer than one syllable like “bitten”
- words that have long vowel sounds like “see” and “day”
- words that are exceptions and don’t follow simple spelling rules like “find”
- words that have blended sounds like “cr–cry”, “br–bring”, “st–stop”
- words that have digraphs like “ch-church”, “gh–ghost”, “mb–lamb”
(6a) My child knows long vowel sound: A, E, I, O, U
(6b) My child recognizes when to use long vowel sounds.
I still remember my first grade lesson on long vowel sounds.. “When two vowels go walking the first one does the talking!” Here is a great explanation on vowel sounds rules.
For example he or she should be able to distinguish between:
“bit” and “bite”
“tap” and “tape”
“bat” and “bait”
(7) My child has memorized the sounds of common blends and digraphs.
WHAT ARE BLENDS?: http://www.phonicsontheweb.com/blends.php
WHAT THE HECK ARE DIGRAPHS?: http://www.phonicsontheweb.com/digraphs.php
(8) My child can read words that are longer than one syllable and has memorized commons words that are “exceptions” to reading rules.
Towards the end, some steps ran together as we began reading more challenging books on a day to day basis and Jai began to pick up on reading concepts through experience.
Additional Free Resources:
- Your public library: A lot of people don’t think about this but they have a lot of great stuff at the library!
- Dolly Parton Imagination Library: I can’t believe more people don’t know about this but this program mails your child 1 free book every month until his or her 6th birthday! AND they are GOOD books! We loved this program!
- WeGiveBooks.org: Another great resources that gives you access to books online. You can sort by age range, genre, and author.
Online Reading Games:
If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or email me at LaNee@OneParentWonder.com
Stay Wonderful! 🙂