For those who understand that magical realms lie within the written word upon the page, and that inherent within the ability to decipher the characters of the alphabet and emerge with words of meaning lies an almost mystical opportunity for the reader to share the thoughts of the writer, even in instances when centuries of time separate the two minds.
Reading ability is a magic carpet, able to transport the reader anywhere in the universe, unbound by time or history, or by anything other than the writer’s and reader’s imaginations. It is also the means through which vast realms of knowledge acquired (often at great cost) in ages past, are communicated, enabling a person today to build upon the experience and wisdom of those who went before as opposed to remaining ignorant, or at best, reinventing yesterday’s discoveries.
One of the greatest privileges a parent can ever have is to be instrumental in unlocking the joy of reading for his or her child. If you’re wondering how to teach reading to your child, you keep reading! It is easier than you think.
Teaching Reading Is A Process
Many people have wondered how to teach someone to read. It can be useful to compare the process of how to teach reading to your child to that of toilet training. Both are processes, take time, and involve readiness.
Despite the “one size fits all” mentality of public education in America today, children are not all ready to read at the same age. If allowed to progress at their own pace, almost all children will learn to read with fluency, comprehension and enjoyment.
The success of millions of homeschooling parents in teaching reading to their children (with no prior experience), only to have their children perform far above the national average of publicly schooled children, is irrefutable proof that parent can teach their child to read.
Steps In The Process
- Read to your child from day one. Make reading such integral a part of your child’s existence that he will never be able to recall a time when he was not read to. Make reading an enjoyable part of your child’s each and every day. One of the best times to read to your child is before nap time, and bedtime, and be quick to respond to any requests your child makes for you to read to him as he matures. It is also important that the adults and older children in the home also read, so that the child grows up absorbing the value of books virtually by osmosis.
- Teach phonics. Phonics are tried and true. If you wish to use a “program,” consult veteran members of your local homeschooling community for advice – if there’s a good program to be had, they’ll know, and be able to advise you. Homemade materials are often as good as, if not better than, commercially produced products.
- Teach sight words. Many failed academic approaches to reading attest to the fact that a sight word program alone is a woefully inadequate approach to teaching reading. However, as a supplemental enrichment activity, it has great value. Make flashcards of the Dolch word lists, which comprise 220 of the most commonly employed words in children’s reading material plus an additional 95 nouns. Sight word flash cards help build reading fluency.
- Ensure comprehension through narration.
- Limit electronics, and attach privileges to reading. Let’s be real – electronics are more interactive, more intuitive and less work than reading. Therefore, if you give your child a free choice between electronics and reading, he’ll choose the computer, the iPad and the gaming system every time. Even Steve Jobs was wise enough to restrict the use of these types of distractions with his own children, and instead used dinner times as an opportunity to talk about current events, ideas, and what each family member had read recently! Allow your children to stay up an extra half hour each night, if and only if, they do so to read.
- Create enthusiastic readers by choosing books wisely that you know they will love. Instead of telling them how good the books are, sit down and read the first chapter or two out loud, until the child is “hooked.” Then, be “too busy” to resume reading, but give the child permission to read ahead on his own.If you wonder how to teach reading comprehension, wonder no more. Reading is a multi-dimensional part of life, and should never be confined to mere “schoolwork.” Never stop reading out loud to your children. When they are young, if you’re wondering how to teach comprehension, simply ask them to tell you, in their own words, what you just read. Start with a paragraph. Notify the child – “In a minute, I want you to tell me, in your own words, what these words say, starting NOW!” – and read a precise and interesting paragraph. How well your child is able to narrate what you read is your indicator of how great his current comprehension is, as well as his ability to formulate what he heard in his own words.
There is no true “best way to teach reading,” because whatever the powers that be designate as “best” might not be “best” for YOUR child. Instead, be flexible, open to your own child’s interests, and know that, with enough encouragement and patient instruction, your child, too, will become a fluent reader!