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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Teach Your Child To Read

It can be pretty unnerving to think about how to teach your child to read. There are lots of different methods, programs, and books out there to assist you, which is great, but it can also be overwhelming as you try to figure out which is right for your child. Each child is unique and may learn best with different methods, but I wanted to share with you what has worked for us.

I started with the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" by Siegfried Engelmann. This paperback book is laid out kind of like a workbook, but what is nice about it is it tells the parent what to say to the child in red type. So you don't even have to think about how to present the material to your child, just read the book along with them. It starts by introducing a few sounds and making games with them. It adds more sounds in each lesson, while reviewing the other sounds, then starts putting them together into short words, so the child is reading short words very quickly, by lessons 3 and 4. By lesson 13, the child reads a short sentence that goes with a picture to teach reading comprehension. It also has a writing component to it, that the child write the sounds (letters) they are learning, but my kids have been ready to learn to read before they have the fine motor control to write, so we just skip that part.

After about 60 lessons, H was reading 3 paragraph stories in the book, and she started to get bored with the "workbook" and asked for "real books". So I began my search for true, phonetic easy readers. To my surprise, easy readers are not all easy! I finally found some that were in my opinion, perfect companions to the 100 Easy Lessons book. Bob Books were written by Bobby Lynn Maslen, a kindergarten teacher who also struggled to find easy books for her students to read. The books start out simple and add more sounds and words in each successive book. They have simple pictures and are short enough for a young child to finish in one sitting, so they can feel successful without getting frustrated. After reading one book, our kids have been ecstatic, exclaiming, "I read the whole book all by myself!" and asking to read another one. There are five sets of books.

The best part? All these resources could be available for you to use for free through your library. My library system (not my particular library, but I can reserve things online from other libraries and have them shipped to my library--awesome!) carries all these books. Another free resource that you could use to supplement these is Starfall. This has online games for children, starting with the ABCs (it teaches sign language, too!) and progressing by putting sounds together into words. My kids like the cute songs on this site, and it is easy for them to navigate on their own.


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