There are a lot of ideas and suggestions out there for teaching a young child to read. It can become quite overwhelming and confusing for a mother to know which way to go. Some sound fantastic and like it would be the perfect way to go, but the cost is too expensive, especially for most homeschooling families who are making ends meet on one income. I am going to share with you how I am currently teaching my 6 year old to read, this is also the way my 8 year old learnt to read when she was younger. This is by no means the way everyone should be taught, I am simply sharing how this has worked for us.
During their preschool years, 0-5, I read aloud to them, and I don’t stop reading aloud. My eldest is ten years old and we still have a few read aloud sessions sprinkled throughout our day. I hope our read alouds will continue through the high school years and beyond. We talk about letter sounds and learn the alphabet song. Please don’t confuse the alphabet song with learning letter sounds. This song teaches them the names of the letters. Which is very valuable in itself, but it does not set a child up for sounding out and blending. They learn to recognize their own name in writing. And then they learn to write their name, a very exciting time for both mother and her child. Once they get a grasp on beginning sounds such as c is for cat and b is for baby, then they may be ready to learn to read. At this stage I did a lot of blending type games such as Boggle Junior, and used blending workbooks, all while at the same time allowing much time for free play and exploration. Sometimes its also helpful to utilise some of the cheaper or free ‘teaching blending‘ books, even if its just to get an idea of how to teach blending. I have mentioned a few of these at the end of this post. All of these activities, I used when the child showed an interest. This is not the time to push them into ‘doing school’. This stage is all about fun and natural learning.
Once we have covered these and I feel my child is ready to learn to read, we move onto the following (an age can not be put upon teaching a child to read as all children are ready at different times. If you move into this next stage and are experiencing resistance from your child, back off. Try again in a few months time. When your child is ready, he/she will take off and you won’t be able to stop them 😉 I have to admit here, that with one of mine I began the primer and sight words about three times, each a few months apart, before she was really ready to soar. Don’t be afraid to hold off for a little until she is really ready 🙂
McGuffey Primer Reader – Begin with McGuffey Primer. Teach your child the words needed to read the first story. These first words can be sounded out, however, by teaching the words by sight, your child will build confidence and be reading very quickly. Each day I pull out sight word cards for the new story and introduce them to my daughter. Then we review the previous sight word cards. Then read the new story. I love how McGuffey Readers (available free online, though I have since purchased hard copies of these books) build on the previous lessons so new words and old words are included in the stories, and after a few lessons, there will be a review.
All About Spelling Level 1 – Sometime while using the Primer, I begin with All About Spelling level 1. This level is great for learning all of the additional letter sounds and blending, since they have already learnt most of the basic sounds. I have found that doing this after beginning the Primer, really helps to break down the words.
Early Readers – Now is a great time to bring out the emergent readers – Dr Seuss are fantastic right now, Ten Apples Up On Top, Go Dog Go, Hop On Pop. I have my enthusiastic new reader, read to me for 5 minutes a day from one of these books. She usually always reads longer than 5 minutes, often for 15 minutes at a time. While she is eager and motivated, I let her go for it 🙂 At this stage, it is all about practice and practice and more practice, all to build up the fluency, so she will confidently pick up a book and read it to herself, by herself. I have a basket that I place the already read books in, so she has easy access to them to continue to read in her own free time. She may choose to read them to the puppies, or her dolls or whomever.
The Hear Me Read Bible – This is also the perfect time to have your emerging reader, read from a bible during their devotional time in the mornings. This one is a great first reading bible. The words are few, and repeated so it encourages the new reader. My daughter loves that she has her own bible she can read, while her older sisters are reading theirs 🙂
One great thing about McGuffey and All About Spelling, is that they are non consumable. Meaning you can reuse them for all the children in your family. Once they finish the Primer, move onto the First Reader. Sometime during the First Reader, we cease using sight word cards, as they know most of the sight words needed to read the stories. Usually in the Second Reader, I encourage my child to try sounding out the new words. You will see that the new words are broken down by syllable which for some children is easier to decipher the new word rather than seeing the word whole.
We continue working through the McGuffey Readers with my daughters reading to me each school day. Even my oldest, who is in Grade 5, still reads aloud to me from her reader. To see the recommended grade levels for the readers, look out for my future post.
Some other inexpensive blending helps that I have used in the preschool stage include: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Phonics Pathways. See if you library has these and try them first before you buy them. There are also a number of free options available. On the Don Potter site is a free reading program that you can download. Also have a look at Reading Basics at Old Fashioned Education. Lots of free goodies on there too.
I sincerely hope this helps you to streamline a little and brings some peace in teaching your child to read. I would love to hear from you if this has helped you in any way. Please feel free to comment below or ask any questions.