Monday, October 31, 2011

Teaching Reading

teaching luca to read

Teaching my children to read is probably one of the most rewarding jobs I have as a home schooling mother.  There's nothing quite like watching your child make that connection and begin to blend sounds.  And then, to watch your children read on their own, and love doing it.   But I'll admit, it can also prove to be one of the most challenging jobs too.  For some kids, it takes longer and you must exercise much patience during the process.  It can be a tough job.

I've had the privilege of teaching five of my children to read so far. Presently, I am slowly working with two more of my children.

My goal for teaching my children to read is, first, to instill a love for reading.  And even though I understand that not all of my children will necessarily have a passion for reading, it's important that we plant those seeds early.  In the womb is a great place to start, but it's never too late to begin at any time.

We read to our kids every day!  I read aloud to the little ones and the older ones spend time reading throughout their school day and during rest time.  But a few of them squeeze in reading whenever they can.  As I write this, my seven year old is slouched half over the guest bed reading Little House in the Big Woods.  :)  In the evenings, Greg reads aloud to the whole family. 

Over the years, I've tried several different methods and books for teaching reading.  I've come to the point where I know what I love and what has worked well for our children, so that's what I'll share now.  If you're using a method or a particular book that you absolutely love, please share it in the comments.   (Click all images to enlarge)



There are two books I use to teach reading.  They are set up in a similar way, but one is scripted and one is not.  The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (OPGTR) is scripted for the parent/teacher.  If you're just starting out and feeling a little intimidated about teaching your little one to read, this is the book I recommend.  There is no guess work.  Simply follow the script in each lesson.  You can also purchase a magnetic board with letters, and flash cards that coordinate with the lessons here....or make your own.  Here is an example of the "A" lesson.


The second book is called Phonics Pathways.  This was my first real manual, if you will, that I bought to teach reading.  This one is not scripted, but the pages contain larger print and have less wording.  Each lesson will contain basic instructions or a particular spelling rule, but no more than that.  Here is an example of the "A" lesson.


Deciding which one I will use depends on the child.  When I began teaching Chloe, I started out using OPGTR, but found that there was too much information for Chloe...too much script.  So I decided to try Phonics Pathways with her, and visually, it was easier for her.  Simple was better.  However, with Sophia, OPGTR was perfect.  By the time we reached about 1/3 of the way through the book, she was reading well and took off from there. 

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the "silent gh" lesson.  Phonics Pathways left, OPGTR right. 


As you can see, they are very similar.  I have had success with both books and appreciate how simple they are to use, but how effective they are in teaching reading and spelling rules. 

To sum up, here are some tips for teaching reading:

~Don't be afraid to teach reading!  You can do it! :)

~Read to your children as much as possible.  Allow older siblings to read to younger ones as well.

~Wait until your child is ready.  There is no right or wrong age to teach.  If you've begun teaching your 4 or 5 year old, and they're just not getting it, there's no need to rush them.  Give it some time, continue reading aloud, and try again in a few months.  One of my girls didn't take off with reading until she was six.  Now, she's a super star reader and reads everything!

~Find what works for your child.  With my older girls, I simply used letters.  No manuals, just letters.  But now, I switch between the two books I recommended.  There are many ways to teach reading.  Look online or borrow material first to view before buying.  Also, consider your family size/dynamics.  Some programs are more teacher intensive than others.

~Dont' be afraid to use helpful tools such as reading videos or online free programs.  When I first let my kids watch The Letter Factory, I felt like I was cheating a little.  ;-) I got over that real fast!  My then two year old learned ALL of her letters and sounds from watching that video.  It gave me a great head start. :)

~Once your child begins putting together sounds, incorporate books such as the Bob Books series.  These books begin with one-syllable, short vowel words that really boost a young reader's confidence.  It gives them something other than the manual to read and makes them feel like they're reading something on their own.

~Allow your child to read aloud to you often.  Whether it's Bible time, school reading, or just fun reading, find ways for your child to read aloud.  If we're reading a Bible passage, we divide up the verses so that everyone gets a turn.  If my beginner reader is working on math, I have him or her read the instructions aloud.  Reading aloud builds confidence....especially if those listening are encouraging.

So what are your best tips for teaching reading?  Please share in the comments below.  If you're just starting out, was this helpful?  Do you have any questions?  I would love to hear from you!

Photo Credit

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