How to teach your child to read
Parents are often wondering how they can help their preschoolers become successful readers, even before they can read. Some parents resort to purchasing fancy computer software.
What if I told you there was an easier way? What if I told you it wasn’t hard to teach them? Would you believe me? Experiences, reading and sequencing are skills preschoolers can practice before they read themselves. Let’s look at what is needed to become a successful reader.
Every child brings to the table their experiences. It would be ideal if every child had an equal number of experiences or even similar ones. It would be nice if a teacher was talking about a giraffe and every child had gone to the Zoo and seen one in person. But that isn’t the case. So now let’s look at the experiences children have interacting with parents, grandparents, siblings and others. Children who have more of an opportunity to engage in conversation have a bigger vocabulary. Meaning they have a larger amount of words they may know.
Talking to a child while even a baby increases the likelihood of having a bigger vocabulary. Another great idea is to talk about what your child is interested in. If you have a child that loves dinosaurs. Go to the library and check out books on dinosaurs. Look up documentaries for your child to watch or go on the computer and discover the facts about each dinosaur. Talk to your child and make sure they understand the information they are taking in.
I’ll never forget when my son, who was 5 years old at the time, told his friends, “My eyes glisten.” His friends asked him what “glisten” meant. As he told them a smile came to my face. Earlier that week we read that word in a book. He asked me what it meant. I explained it meant to “shine or sparkle”. Then we reread the sentence so it would make sense to him. I smiled because he remembered what it meant and used the word in the right context.
Reading to a child every night or as often as you can increases the love of reading. I have always taught my children that books are valuable and are to be taken care of. This helped them to realize that books and what is in them is important. When parents take an interest in what their child is reading then reading becomes important.
Even if you have a busy child who won’t sit long reading is important. Looking thru books and talking about what is on each page is just as important as reading the written word.
When my daughter was 3 years old I couldn’t wait to read her “Charlotte’s Web”. She loved books and I wanted to share with her one of my childhood favorites. Every night I would read a chapter. After I was done reading we talked about what happened. Even the feelings the characters must have felt. The next night, before we read the next chapter, we would go over what we read the night before and put together the events of the book up until that point. Then we would read the next chapter and again talk about the events that happened, making sure she understood. We continued this all through to the end of the book.
Making sure your child understands what you or they have read is very important. A lot of times kids can read above their grade level. The question is can they comprehend what they have read. Helping your child to understand what they have heard or read is very important. This leads us to sequencing.
What is sequencing? Sequencing refers to the identification of the events in a story. This skill is one of the basic skills needed to build a solid foundation in reading. It is important for a child to know the sequence of events to help with comprehension, reading and writing. Asking questions while reading or asking the child what happened is a great way to teach sequencing. Sequencing plays a role in other subjects such as math and science.
It is important for children to be able to learn directions or rules whether playing games, doing worksheets or getting dressed. A child who understands sequencing will know that pants need to go on before shoes. If not they will struggle to put their pants on. If a child struggles with sequencing or receiving directions they may not be able to put what they have been told in a logical order. This can be very overwhelming to a child.
At one time, my son had a very hard time following directions when I gave him 3 tasks to do at once. So we took a step back and worked on following directions doing two tasks that I asked. When he became more confident and capable we increased the number of tasks to three. It’s important to work with your child on their level in order to help them successfully develop the basic skills they will need in reading and in life.
How We Can Help
First, I think the most important thing to realize is that there is no shortcut to helping your child to read. It is something that you are continuously developing over time. Increasing your child’s understanding, asking questions about what is being read. Making sure they understand words they haven’t heard or seen before. If you’re reading a sentence like “The food was abundant” make sure your child knows what abundant means and if you don’t know look it up. It is important a child understands what he is reading in order to make sense of the book.
Children who have bigger vocabularies are usually better readers. Better readers comprehend what they are reading better and are able to retell stories in the order it happened.
So talk to your children and take them places if you can. Read books with them. Ask questions in the beginning of the story as well as the middle and the end. Have them retell you the story. But most importantly spend the time to find out what their interests are and discover them together.