Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spend 5 Minutes a Day and Teach Your Child to Read

Teaching your child to read can be fun and very rewarding. It can also help them excel in school and improve their self esteem. By committing yourself to only five minutes a day, your child could start reading within two to three months. I have taught school and tutored individual children, and have found some wonderful resources available to teach your child to read. They are not expensive and are well worth the money. By buying a set of alphabet flash cards and a set of phonics readers, you have all you need to begin.

  1. The first step in teaching your child to read is to help them recognize the letters in the alphabet. You can buy the alphabet cards at many different locations. (for example: Target, Walmart, Staples, etc.) Start with two or three letters and add one at a time until you get through the whole alphabet. Ask your child, “Which letter is a T? Which letter is an A?” Don’t ask them to tell you the name of the letter yet. They are learning to discriminate between the letters. Find letters that look very different so it will be easier for them to recognize them. You can place three in a row and ask them to find a certain letter. Do this little by little until they recognize all of the letters in the alphabet. Once they master finding the letter you ask them to find, they are ready for the next step.

  2. The next step is to have them identify each letter. You can start using the same process with two or three cards and ask them to tell you the name of each letter. As they answer correctly, add one letter at a time until you get through the entire alphabet. You can also make bingo cards with the letters on them. Chose a letter and have them tell you what letter it is before they can put something on that space. You can also use a fishing pole or stick with a string and magnet and have them fish for letters that have paperclips attached so they will stick to the magnet. As they catch the letters, ask them what letter it is. If they get it right, they get to put it in a pile. If they get it wrong, it goes back down and they have to fish for it again. There is also an excellent book called Chalkboard in the Kitchen by Teresa Savage. It may be out of print, therefore you may only be able to buy used copies. The price has risen to approximately $30, but you can see about getting it at your local library or through interlibrary loan at your local library. Once your child can tell you all of the letters in the alphabet, they are ready to start reading.

  3. The next step is to start on the phonics readers. I have tried several different reading programs, and I have found the Phonics Practice Readers published by Modern Curriculum Press to be the easiest and best available. Each set has 10 books: two for each vowel. There are eight pages in each book. They use different consonants and focus on one vowel at a time. There are both short and long vowel readers. The short vowel readers start with the book Max the Cat. After the short vowel readers, work through the long vowel readers. When your child is finished with both the short and long vowel series, they are ready to read other books. These phonics readers are the best I have found and I have had lots of success teaching both English-speaking and non English—speaking children to read with them. I found a company on the internet called Perfection Learning Corporation that sells these sets for $23.95 each. A set includes 10 books and a teacher’s guide. Their toll free number is 1-800-831-4190. I start with series A, set 1 (short vowels) and set 2 (long vowels). If you want to purchase more short or long vowel books, you can purchase series B or Series C. You may also be able to find them on the internet at Barnes and Noble or any other book site.

  4. Margaret Hillert has written a series of books that focus on a limited vocabulary. These books are excellent to use as the next step in teaching your child to read. They can be checked out from your local library. If they don’t carry them, check the school library or get them through interlibrary loan. If you have several children you may consider purchasing them, but check one out first to see what they are like and to see if they are something you want to spend money on. The books cost about six dollars each. Some of the titles are: The Three Little Pigs, The Birthday Car, The Magic Beans, etc. Another book they might enjoy is Ten Apples Up On Top by Theo Lesieg. It has a limited vocabulary. Be careful about buying other brands of beginning readers without looking through them thoroughly. Some have a few words on the pages, but the vocabulary is much too difficult. I once looked at a book for K-1 that had the word anchovies in it. Just a limited number of words on the page does not make it a good book for your child.

By trying this method I think you will be very pleased. You will see your child progress and feel the rewards of your efforts. Don’t give up. There are times when it may get frustrating, but if you are consistent and spend 5 minutes a day you will make it.

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