Some kids will not learn to read until they are in kindergarten or first grade. Others will show up for preschool with some knowledge of the alphabet. To some extent this has to do with developmental milestones that all children go through, so it’s not as though you can teach your 1-year-old to read. But one thing is certain – the earlier you help your kids to develop a love of reading, the more they’re bound to enjoy it throughout their lives. And the sooner they start reading, the better equipped they’ll be to tackle the myriad subjects they’ll be exposed to in school. As a parent, you play a major role in your children’s ability to read, and you should definitely start the process at home. Here are a few helpful tips for any parent looking to teach young children to read.
- Go slow. It is absolutely imperative that you be patient with your kids when teaching them how to read. Every child learns at a different pace, so you can’t expect your children to miraculously learn to read just because other kids in their preschool classes can. And when you get pushy and make comparisons, you’re going to undermine your children’s confidence, and in turn, their interest in reading. So take your time, offer praise, and your patience is sure to pay off.
- Start with the alphabet. If you’ve never taught someone to read before, you might not know where to begin. The first step is letter recognition. Start with the alphabet song and then use blocks or written letters to teach your kids the symbols associated with the letters in the song. Before kids can learn to read, they need to be able to identify letters and the sounds they symbolize.
- Learn phonetically. Once kids have learned how to recognize the symbols that make up our alphabet, it’s time to start going over the sounds those symbols represent. For example, kids may recognize the letter A, but in addition to the long A sound, it also represents sounds like “ah.” And of course, once you start forming letters into words, their sounds can change dramatically. Learning phonetics is an important step towards mastering reading. And there are plenty of programs geared towards phonetics that can help you to teach your child how to read – you’ve no doubt seen the “Hooked on Phonics worked for me!” advertisements.
- Read favorite books together. Phonetics is important, but they aren’t everything. At some point, the best lessons will center on actual reading. You can use your kids’ favorite books to motivate them to learn, so long as they don’t have the text memorized. After all, you want to make sure they’re using their newfound knowledge rather than reciting pages from memory.
- Watch for stumbling blocks. When you teach kids to read, it’s all too easy to get caught up in what they’re not doing. You don’t want to assume that something is wrong just because it’s taking a while to teach them. But if they continue to struggle, you need to try to spot patterns. Are there certain letters that seem to elude them? If so, they may have an issue like dyslexia, and the sooner you catch it, the quicker you can begin to deal with it and keep your kids on track with reading. With programs from organizations like JWor Enterprises, Inc., you can ensure that learning disabilities don’t hold your kids back where reading is concerned.