How to Teach Children to Read At Home
Almost anyone you ask would agree that reading is one of the most essential skills a child is going to need throughout his life. What most people don’t agree about is the most effective means to teach a child to read. It’s been a source of endless debates among experts, pediatricians, neurologists and educators alike. There are also plenty of products and programs out there promising miracle results, such as babies reading even before they can run without falling. As a parent, it’s daunting to look at all the studies and offers. But there’s no need to grow anxious. Reading is not a skill that is naturally learned, but there are simple ways to teach it to your child.
Here are 4 Tips on How to Teach Children to Read
1. Remember that reading grows out of listening.
“Phonemic awareness” is the ability to recognize specific sounds that make up spoken words. The English alphabet is a phonetic system, meaning that it is a writing system that represents sounds, unlike the Chinese writing system, that uses characters to represent whole words or ideas. Since the English alphabet is phonetic, studies have shown that children with greater phonemic awareness find it much easier to learn how to read.
You can teach your child to be more aware of language sounds if you speak to him and interact with him often. The results are much better if you don’t resort to baby talk. Not only will this increase his phonemic awareness, it will also expand his vocabulary, another important thing to consider when he begins to learn reading. Remember, reading isn’t just about knowing how to sound out words on a page. Its goal is to gain an understanding of what is written in print. If your child doesn’t know what a word actually means, he’s not really reading it.
2. Place greater emphasis on teaching letter sounds rather than letter names.
It’s an achievement if your child is able to identify that the first letter in the word “apple” is “A,” but it’s more important that he be able to sound out that same “ah-” sound in “art” or “cap.” Start teaching your child the sounds each letter represents, as well as the different possible pronunciations. The “A” in “cap” is not the same as the “A” in “cape.” Be patient when teaching these different sounds. One new sound every other day should be fine, but if your child needs more time, then slow down your pace. It’s more important that he remember each sound thoroughly before you move on to the next one.
3. Make learning time into play time.
Young children learn so much through the games they play. Even games like pretend or dress up can help develop their imaginations and their understanding of the world around them. For adults, games are primarily a way to relax and to take your mind off things. But for children, the repetitive nature and the structured rules of games are effective ways to keep their minds focused and learning. Play rhyming games with your child to teach him both sound and letter patterns, draw the letters of the alphabet with crayon and decorate them. Think of this as a chance not just to teach your child, but to bond with him.
4. Have realistic expectations for your child’s development.
Consider that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s also worth considering that human civilization came up with language several thousand years before it got around to inventing a way of writing it down. Don’t try to force your child’s development to be quicker than it should be.
If he isn’t speaking in full sentences, he isn’t ready to read full sentences. Read up on studies made about the development of children. Don’t be thrown into a panic by parents who brag that their two year-old is already reading. Their two year-old may be able to distinguish particular words, but reading is ultimately about understanding what you read. If a child can sound out words, but he doesn’t understand them, this will not help him to learn. It will not improve his grades and it won’t make him more intelligent or more informed. By the time he reaches the first grade, there will be nothing extraordinary about his reading words if he can’t understand the facts and ideas those words are trying to convey. If your long-term goal as a parent is to give your child a head-start in his education, then keep in mind that knowing how to teach children to read is an extremely important duty that every parent must do. Feel free to check our article 100 ways to teach your child to read for more tips.