Let me preface this by saying that I did not teach my kids to read. I have taught hundreds of kids to read as a teacher and tutor, but I did not teach my own. And unless you are a homeschooling parent or your kid goes to lousy schools, the burden (or joy, depending on your outlook) of teaching your kid to read should not be on your shoulders.
However, I did do some things to make it easier for my kids to learn to read and to make them good readers once they got the hang of it. And I might wind up teaching Hugmonkey to read this summer, just because he is so desperate to catch up to his brother and sister. Anyway. . .
I hear a LOT of parents talk about teaching their kids to read. Especially preschool parents. While a few kids are ready to read in preschool, most are not actually reading. They are memorizing books and words, which is fine but not very effective in the long run. It doesn't matter if your kid could "read" The Cat in the Hat at 4 when she is unable to comprehend chapter books in third grade. I'm not saying (necessarily) that your kid will turn into a great reader if you follow my advice, but it will definitely help.
The Ultimate Guide
- Read to your kid every day. Reading together and talking about books is a great predictor of future reading success. And once your kid is reading, reading together can still help with vocabulary and comprehension.
- Introduce the concept of the alphabet, but don't do flashcards with your 2 year old. Point out letters on signs, read alphabet books, that kind of thing.
- Begin teaching phonological awareness. This awareness lets kids understand and manipulate the sounds in words. If they can't do that, then "sounding out" unknown words will be next to impossible.
- Emphasize rhyming. The ability to recognize rhymes as a young child is a huge predictor of future reading success. I wrote all about teaching kids rhyming skills in this post.
- As your kid heads into kindergarten, I would introduce the concept of "sight words". These are words that you recognize on sight, without having to sound out (decode) them. Your child's name, for example, is hopefully a sight word at this point. If your child is eager to learn to read, you can try sight word flash cards in kindergarten. If your kiddo isn't motivated? Don't force it yet. Try again later in the school year.
- Begin teaching phonics; this links the sounds heard in words with the letters that make those sounds. It is what helps us "sound out", or decode, unknown words.
- So, now your kiddo is reading. . .but is s/he understanding what is read? That can be a challenge for a lot of kids, especially kids who memorized sight words and phonics rules easily. Comprehension skills are something that parents can work on at home easily. Even if you just discuss what you read together each night, you are helping your child learn to reflect on text.
- Skip the workbooks. Please. Your kid is much better off reading Captain Underpants for the 10th time than doing mind-numbing "comprehension" worksheets. You can come by next week for worksheet alternatives.
- If you're look for more detailed instructions and information, please visit Reading Rockets. It's the best reading site I've found on the web.
- Books early readers will love:
Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Dr. Seuss's Beginner Book Collection (Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, Fox in Socks)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
10 Little Rubber Ducks
David Gets In Trouble
Yo! Yes? (Scholastic Bookshelf)
Hi! Fly Guy
Scholastic Reader Level 2: Super Fly Guy