Tips for Teaching Your Child to Learn to Read

Modification of an Article by C Michael Levy, PhD

While teaching your child to read is something that should not be taken lightly, adding a little bit of fun into the activity can really make things go a lot smoother. It is important that your child learns how to read efficiently. This article is assuming that you desire to teach your child the NuEnglish way of spelling, which you can learn here. The home page of this website will introduce you to the overwhelming need for solving our literacy crisis rather than just fighting the symptoms of the problem, as we have been doing for more than two centuries now. For the link to the home page, http://LearnToReadNow.org, click here.

When Should We Start Teaching the Kids to Read?

For most children, the time is ripe for them to be introduced to reading when they can clearly distinguish shapes from one another. Although they may not know the names of the letters of our alphabet or what role those letters have in our lives and they haven’t yet developed the concept of a “word,” this is the best time to begin slowly introducing them to the world of words. To begin to teach your children how to read and to widen their vocabulary, here is some advice for doing so.

Reading Aloud Time

One thing that can be very helpful is to simply read to them as frequently as possible. Try to go beyond reading only bedtime stories by reading aloud selected commercial messages that appear on your TV screen, by reading aloud grocery store ads, by reading emails that you have written to them, and reading to them from favorite books of yours. This really helps because, as with most things, the more often that they are read to, the more they become used to it. By listening to you read to them regularly, they can also begin to build word associations and begin to understand that there is a connection between the content that you are reading and the sounds of the words that you are speaking.

Visual Stimuli

A fun, but effective, method of teaching your child to develop pre-reading skills is to use blocks or cards. Some children will later show themselves to be visual learners, and this method will work splendidly for them. To begin with, just start with blocks, PostIts, or flash cards showing alphabetic letters and getting them to read the one letter at a time until they can do so (almost) without error. Teach them the name of the letter, but more importantly, teach them the sound that the letter represents. The sound that each letter represents can be found here. After displaying the items containing only letters, advance to a combination of letters, such as the blends “ch,” “th,” “ng,”and “sh.”

Once the child has become proficient here and has started on a more formal or structured reading program, consider this novel way to add a learning to read element to your every day environment: Label everything in your house (or as many objects as you can without wreaking havoc with your décor). This means to take a blank PostIt or flash card and write on it the name of an object in your house, such as “stoev,” “desk,” “doer,” or “char.” (This is the NuEnglish spellings of stove, desk, and chair.) Start by labeling a few objects that the child encounters on a regular basis, then gradually adding a few more each day. If the appearance of your house begins to suffer unbearably, take away an old card every time that you add a new one. Then, perhaps on a weekly basis, cycle through all of the used (previously displayed) cards with the child to ensure that he or she can still recognize the object that the card “goes with.” Because modern reading programs strongly de-emphasize rote memorization, this technique is best saved until the child’s structured reading program is well under way.

You should go into detail on everything that you read with your child. It is okay that you talk at an elementary level for a little bit with your child (baby talk) but you should be watchful that you don’t overdo it lest the child end up with a much weaker vocabulary than her or his peers. Using detailed phrasings and going into depth of what you are reading (explaining everything) can really help assist the child in grasping the concept underlying the words. If your child asks what you are doing while you are looking at grocery store flyers in the newspaper, don’t just say “Looking for good deals” or “Looking at flyers” but actually go into detail and say something like “We’re going to go grocery shopping later so I thought I would look at the deals in the flyers that came with the newspaper so I can save money by picking the right grocery store.” This should help the child get a greater understanding of what you are really doing. Even though the details may apparently escape the child, the highly plastic child’s brain will take in that message, process a part of it, and store in memory a bit of knowledge from that moment.

Have a few good conversations with your child every day. Speak to them at a level that they can understand and carefully listen to them. Try to re-interpret their basic or naïve understanding of the matter being discussed so that their knowledge of their surrounding environment grows. Not only will this help them later by building a greater vocabulary, it will help strengthen the bond between you and your child. Unfortunately, too many adults don’t speak with their children as often as they should or could.

Learning to speak and listen better is part of being able to learn how to read better as well. So you should make sure that you incorporate every aspect into their daily routine. You should listen to what your children have to say, their feelings, and let them express whatever is on their mind.

There are significant benefits in teaching your child to have both a very strong vocabulary and a strong ability to read text perfectly so the task shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make it fun, but make sure that it gets done. Even though you are home schooling them, because in most cases learning to read begins at a early age, the child need not need to know that the “game” that you are playing with him or her is actually an informal lesson that you are teaching.

C Michael Levy, PhD, has been writing and publishing for decades, with more than 300 articles and a dozen books to his credit. Google his name to find his articles.

About bcenglis

Bob Cleckler is a retired Chemical Engineer. In 1985 he read Jonathan Kozol's shocking new book, "Illiterate America." He decided to use his research skills as an engineer to see if there was a solution to the problem. He spent more than a year in his research. He read EVERY book he could find on the subject of his research. He read dozens of books from the large Marriott Research Library at the University of Utah. Based upon his findings, he developed a solution to the problem of English illiteracy. It is a PROVEN solution. Dr. Frank Laubach spent his entire adult life teaching adult illiterates around the world how to read in more than 300 alphabetic languages. Dr. Laubach proved that he could teach students, in 98% of the languages in which he taught, to read fluently in less than three months. His books, "Teaching the World to Read" and "Forty Years With the Silent Billion," never mention being unable to teach ANY of his students to read fluently.

Cleckler collaborated with Gary Sprunk, M.S. English Linguistics, to perfect his solution based upon Dr. Laubach's experience and findings. Two non-profit educational corporations were formed. Cleckler is the CEO of Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and Vice Pres. of R & D of NuEnglish, Inc. Gray Sprunk is President of NuEnglish, Inc. Cleckler's award-winning book, "Let's End Our Literacy Crisis," originally published in 2005 is now available on our website, http://LearnToReadNow.org, without cost or obligation for the Second Revision, released in late 2012. This breakthrough book covers:

A. the tremendous need for improving English literacy. Cleckler found research proving (1) that 48.7% of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate, defined as being unable to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job, (2) that 31.2% of these functional illiterates are in poverty, and (3) that they are more than twice as likely to be in poverty because of their illiteracy as for all other causes combined. Furthermore he found at least 34 types of serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problems that illiterates must endure every day of their lives that we would consider a crisis if we had to endure them. Cleckler also found that illiteracy costs EVERY U.S. adult -- readers and non-readers -- an average of more than $5,000 each year for government programs that illiterates use; for truancy, juvenile delinquency, and crime directly related to illiteracy; and for the higher cost of consumer goods due to illiterates in the labor pool and in the workforce.

B. the causes of illiteracy. Before any problem can be solved, you must find the cause. Otherwise you can spend huge amounts of money fighting the symptoms of the problem without preventing the problem from recurring.

C. the preferred, proven solution to the problem. We have been fighting the symptoms of the difficulty in learning to read English for almost a century. Although numerous changes in American education have been implemented in the last century, none of them solve the foundational cause of the problem. Almost half of U.S. students never become fluent readers, and most of the ones who do become fluent readers require at least two years to learn to read well enough to continue increasing their reading skills after third grade, when most reading instruction in school ends.

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