Cut out simple cards and write a word containing three sounds on each one (e.g. ram, sat, pig, top, sun, pot, fin). Invite your child to choose a card, then read the word together and hold up three fingers. Ask them to say the first sound they hear in the word, then the second, and then the third. This simple activity requires little prep‑time and builds essential phonics and decoding skills (helping them learn how to sound out words). If your child is just starting out with learning the letters of the alphabet, focus on the sound each letter makes, more so than letter names.
Upon getting it in the mail, I read the introduction. It picks a few sounds to teach and has kids reading very basic words with the high frequency sounds, adding sounds and words to the mix as it goes along. Brilliant! How I never thought of this on my own is beyond me. On top of that, it's scripted, which makes it so easy. It instructs you exactly what you should do if your kiddo makes a mistake, and how to praise when they get it right.
My son's boys both learned to read by themselves between their third and fourth birthdays. Within a few months they were reading fluently. My five year old granddaughter will come up to her mother to announce she can spell a certain word, then spell it. Her three year old brother and their almost three year old cousin can identify upper and lower case letters and count objects up to twenty, which, I guess makes them "ready" for kindergarten. There is no pressure to learn to read, just the expectation that it will happen when the child is ready.
In other schools, balanced literacy can mean something very different and something that looks a lot like what is called the “whole language” approach — which is now largely discredited. At these schools, teachers provide a portion of the kids with a smattering of phonics (most schools now concede that some kids do need phonics to help figure out the code) and also encourage them to guess words from illustrations, and later, from context. As the children (hopefully) get more competent at reading, teachers minimize the study of language and devote their time and energy to getting kids excited about words, reading, and books. If you care about your child’s school success, you’ll want more of the former kind of instruction — phonics and word study — and less of the latter.
Willingham recently wrote the New York Times op-ed “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” and it’s fascinating. In raising readers, it appears that we’re doing it wrong. Parents and teachers tend to think about the learning process in separate blocks. When kids are very young—around 4, 5 or 6—we teach them how to “decode” words. It isn’t until the fourth or fifth grade that we move onto comprehension. That’s too late, Willingham says. “Decoding and comprehension are not the same thing,” he tells me. “There are times when you can read content out loud but not understand what you’re reading.” In the later elementary school grades, as texts become much more complex, comprehension becomes much more difficult. And therefore, children struggle.
Hi, This really is very interesting and informative. I have an 11 year old and he still struggling with reading. Right now I am paying a private school for him, “They claim they can teach him” But I am very concerned, he is an amazing kid and he is so smart, but when it comes to reading, even if someone mentions it, he gets very frustrated, he loves books, he would love to read like all the kids his age, I have hundreds of books at home, and I read to all my kids, I always try to promote this skill, to encourage them (specially him) I just don’t know how to help him, I feel like I am not doing a good job as a mom, just because I can’t make him learn as fast as he want to.
A child who's really reading does more than just sound out a word like "cat." He must also be able to know whether a "cat" is a person, place, or thing; to comprehend the grammar in each sentence (Does the cat wear the hat or does the hat wear the cat?); to dramatize and contextualize the story in his head (cats don't normally talk and wear hats, do they?); and to empathize with the story's characters and understand the ramifications of their actions (that mom is sure going to be mad when she finds the mess made by that silly cat).
Hmmm…it sounds to me like maybe you need to look around at some other supplemental reading curriculum out there. When you say that she is learning 20 new “vocabulary” words a day, do you mean that she is supposed to memorize these by sight? If so, I think you might be better off spending at least a little bit more time teaching elements of phonemic awareness and phonics (to where she will have the skills to actually learn to decode a word and not just memorize it). I used a curriculum called “Pathways to Reading” (linked to above in the “phonemic awareness section) in my first grade classroom and it was AMAZING! It taught all of the vowel sounds as well as blends, digraphs, and phonics rules. I would say that with ANY reading curriculum you use, you need a healthy balance that focuses on: reading comprehension, phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, and vocabulary. Hope that helps!
Tap into prior knowledge. Before reading, parents should tap into their children's prior knowledge—priming the pump for deeper learning. For example, when reading Make Way for Ducklings, a mother might recall the day she and her daughter went to the park to feed the ducks and ask: “What do you remember about those ducks?” Before reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, a dad might reminisce about the time he and his son watched the heavy equipment at the construction site near their house, asking: “What vehicles do you remember seeing and what were they doing?”
Set a positive example by reading books. If a child notices that you are enjoying a book, he will be more likely to develop an interest in reading as well. Try to read around them for about 20 minutes each day. If the child gets curious about what you're doing you can tell him about the book you are reading, or take the opportunity to ask if the child would like to find a book to read.
You could also try putting magnetic letters on the fridge door or buying foam letters to float about in the bath. Once they know some letter sounds well, you can 'spot' the letters when you see them on street signs and food labels, as well as in books (“Look, yuh for yoghurt.”) You could also think up some other letter-sound games to play together, from good old I Spy to more modern, splashy stuff…
The lessons are all basically the same, but as the child progresses, they start to teach newer techniques such as "READING THE FAST WAY". Admittedly, we stumbled at first. It's a tricky thing to teach a young child to sound it out IN THEIR HEADS, and when the know the word, just say it fast. It took one or two days of frustration before he caught on....and now it's no problem! If you think about it, that's reading. We say the words in our head. This book just adds the step of having them say it out loud, too!
I have a 6 year old son who had some pretty significant delays due to liver disease. I never thought he would take off reading the way he has! He's doing so well with your program he will not have to repeat kindergarten. We are so pleased with your reading program! And super excited our son gets to go into first grade all because his reading skills are so good! He's a better reader than most of his friends his age who have never had delays or medical issues.
This is one of the great tragedies of the American school system. It is even more heartbreaking when you talk to scientists about how the human brain reads. Researchers estimate that somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of children, most of whom have developmental disorders or profound neurological problems, will never learn to read. The rest? If they are given what experts say is the right kind of instruction, they will learn to read, and most of them will be able to read well.
Marie, an unschooling mom, wrote about her son, now age 7: "[He] found the incentive to become a better reader through acting at a local theater. He has always been passionate about putting together ‘shows,' but now he is old enough to have real acting experience. He sees that reading is an integral part of this activity that he loves and it has given him a strong reason to grow and develop as a reader. He recently had a part in A Midsummer Night's Dream and had to read and memorize Shakespeare. It took no instruction on the part of a ‘teacher' whatsoever."
I love this! I am a preschool teacher who has been stressing a little! My 4.5 year old son has been challenging me… he is clearly showing signs that he is ready to read and I have no idea where to start! You have no idea how happy I am to have come across your blog about reading… the fact that its not memorize ABC’s, memorize sounds, etc but rather comes from a more natural learning has made me so happy! I have come across so many teachers that are no longer worried about letting children learn through their interests and it has turned into a very formal rote learning which makes me cringe. So YAY!!! Thank you thank you thank you! Tomorrow my son and I have a game planned where he is going to think of a word, which we will sound and and decide what letters are in it… and I will write out words that he will try and sound out to read! We are both very excited!
Develop phonemic awareness. One of the most important steps in teaching reading is associating a spoken sound with a letter or letter-pair. This process is known as phonemic awareness. There are 44 speech sounds created by the 26 letters in our alphabet, and each sound must be taught paired with its letter(s) counterpart. This includes the long and short sound produced by each individual letter, as well as the specialized sounds some combined letters make (like ‘ch’ and ‘sh’).

Willingham recently wrote the New York Times op-ed “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” and it’s fascinating. In raising readers, it appears that we’re doing it wrong. Parents and teachers tend to think about the learning process in separate blocks. When kids are very young—around 4, 5 or 6—we teach them how to “decode” words. It isn’t until the fourth or fifth grade that we move onto comprehension. That’s too late, Willingham says. “Decoding and comprehension are not the same thing,” he tells me. “There are times when you can read content out loud but not understand what you’re reading.” In the later elementary school grades, as texts become much more complex, comprehension becomes much more difficult. And therefore, children struggle.
Building on from the previous step, introduce simple word games on a regular basis. Focus on playing games that encourage your child to listen, identify and manipulate the sounds in words. For example, start by asking questions like “What sound does the word                      start with?” “What sound does the word                      end with?” “What words start with the sound                     ?” and “What word rhymes with                     ?”.
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