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The Art of Learning to Read: A Teacher’s Guide

The Art of Learning to Read: A Teacher’s Guide

Our Daughter is Reading to Us!

The most amazing thing has happened this year. Adelaide has started reading TO US! I knew it would happen, but it is still such an amazing transition to watch happen in your own kid. As a pre-k teacher, I watch it happen almost every year, but to see the transition in my own kid is amazing, heartwarming, phenomenal, I’m running out of words to describe the feeling.

As a parent and a teacher, I know the importance of education. Every year at conference time I have parents ask me what they can do to help their child be more successful. My number one response is READ to your child. Every day. My second most popular response is “show them that you value education.” You can show your child you value education by being involved. Ask questions. Stress the importance of attending school (unless of course they are sick). Stress the importance of being respectful to the teacher and attending to the lessons. If your kids see that you care about what they are doing in school, they will know that you value education and will work harder.

Learning to Read

As a teacher, there are things I do in school to lay the foundation for reading that you can also do at home. The first thing we do each year, after learning the routines of school, is to learn how to handle books. We learn about the front of the book, the back of the book, the spine, how to turn the pages, etc. Only after we know how to handle books do we start to learn about letters.

For class, we learn one letter a day and only 4 letters a month. We sing songs, find it in books, go on letter walks, or trace it with our fingers. We even write in shaving cream or paint, use a wet paintbrush to erase the letter off the chalkboard, or we use our whole body to build the letters. And while we are learning the letter, we also learn what the letter says. For the kids that are struggling to “get it,” we use even more sensory approaches, like driving the car along the letter road, hopping to the letter on the floor, or making letters out of playdough.

You can’t move onto reading or building words until you know your letters and the sounds they make. So, you might spend a lot of time in the letter learning phase. That’s ok. This is where you will build the solid foundation for their reading future. Oh, I should also mention that while you are focusing on letter recognition and sounds, you should still be reading to your children. Ask them questions about what happened in the story. Reading without understanding is just decoding.

Starting with "CVC" Words

So now your child knows their letters and letter sounds. It’s time to put it all together and start reading some words. There are some words that can’t be sounded out (was, is, and, the, etc.) these are called sight words. Your kid will just have to memorize those. The real reading comes from putting the letter sounds together and reading a word. This is HARD! They have to be able to make the mental leap that /c/ /a/ /t/ put together is CAT. learning to readIt takes practice and patience. I like to start with CVC words. Those are consonant, vowel, consonant words. I also like to start on word families. If your kid can read CAT, then they can read BAT, HAT, SAT, MAT, etc. You get the idea. Once they figure out how to blend CVC words, the idea of how to blend should click.

I like to play games with the kids to make building and reading words a little more fun. My go-to is Boggle Jr. I have also wrapped some empty boxes in paper and put letters on them to play a giant game of Boggle. That one is a huge hit because it takes class outside and gets them moving and building words together!

Of course, English is one of the hardest languages and there are so many exceptions to the rules. What is with the multiple sounds per letter or the letters that just straight up disregard the letter sounds we teach?!

Favorite Learning to Read Moments

The most important thing I have learned in teaching kids how to read, is to make it fun, read every day, and practice. Talk about what you are reading and keep encouraging your child to try, even when it is really hard!

If your child is learning to read, or has been reading for a long time, what are some of your favorite moments? Did they have a favorite book they turned to on a regular basis? What about you, did you have a story you loved to read to your kids? Share your comments below and don’t forget to head over to Facebook and Twitter to let us know there too.

Kids and Their Nightly Routine

Routine is such a key factor for kids having a good day. When our kids were born, we settled into a nightly routine that assisted in their ability to sleep through the night.

Staying at Home When the Kids are Sick

Well, as cliché as it sounds, you need to game plan these days “off.” That’s right, create a plan for when your kids get sick. Even if you can’t get everything done on your to-do list, you’ll be satisfied with what you were able to accomplish. That’s the power of making a list.

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