Your Child's Road to Reading by Richard Flowers AA,BS,MS,CT
By Richard Flowers
"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr. Seuss
As a first grade teacher, I am often asked by parents about the best way to teach their child to read. I have been teaching for nearly 20 years and I have developed a toolbox of techniques that effectively teaches reading skills to children.
I believe the best time to start teaching children to learn is before birth. Humans naturally have musical and rhythmical endowment. Even those who say they cannot hold a tune or sing off-key, have a musical and rhythmical intelligence. We live in a universe where rhythm and beat are intrinsically embedded in our lives. The day has 24 hours, the year 365 days, seasons will occur according to where we live. As an infant we listen to our own heartbeat as well as our mother's. We are born into the world we experience the rhythm of own on breath and the sounds of music around us start out by having a conversation with you baby and playing various forms of music.
Once your child is born, expose him or her to a plethora of language, conversation, music, rhythm and love. This nourishment of sound will help develop the speech and language centers of the brain. I have found that my highest performing students had parents that used these techniques of immersion into the richness of sound, rhythm and language.
Read to your child daily, even from the first day of birth. After a couple of years of reading aloud and pointing to the words your child shall begin to understand print. Pointing to the words as you read teaches your child how to track the words and understand how print is set up from top to bottom and left to right.
Children will begin to have their favorite books that they want you to read to them. Use this excitement and read these books repeatedly until your child knows the book by heart. This is the teachable moment! Once your child reaches this point it is time for them to start reading aloud. I recommend that you read one sentence at a time, while pointing to each word. Then have your child read it with you in unison. The next step is to have your child read the sentence aloud by themselves. Once you have done this with sentences, you can move on to paragraphs and eventually pages. You will see amazing growth with your child's reading once they begin to understand the concept.
Another valuable method that I have found is useful in teaching reading decoding skills is with the use of the Dolch Word List. The Dolch List is a set of researched words used extensively in everyday reading, writing, and conversation. There are 220 words that are the most frequently used in the English language. Use this list to drill and practice with your child until they master them. You will find these word used comprehensively in all children's books.
"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." Victor Hugo
Another tool that I find helpful is Dolch phrases. The advantage of using the Dolch phrases is that it puts the words into context. This allows your child to use context clues to help decipher the meaning of the words. The phrases use the words as normally delivered in everyday practice. Drill and practice the phrases with you child. Point to each word of the phrase and have your child repeat it to you. Do this repeatedly until your child is able to decode the phrases out loud without assistance. You can mark the ones that they need to master.
Yet one more tool that I have in my bag of tricks is the use of phonograms. Here are the 37 most common phonograms and some of the 500 words they make up. Remember that although this list contains only one-syllable words, these phonograms will help students decode longer words, too. Drill and practice these words with your child. In class we have been singing these while tracking the words to the song Twinkle Little Star. The kids love singing these! I have found that this is a useful tool for teaching reading. I use music regularly to teach every subject. The research proves children that use music to learn and have a background in music outperform their peers in all subjects. I tell my parents that using music to learn is like putting a hemi in your brain! I am finding that many of the kids that could not sound out advanced or complicated words in these phonogram families now decoding complicated words successfully in everyday reading in class!
I also recommend that parents read with their children for 20 minutes everyday. Choose a fun book that is appropriate for their reading level. One rule of thumb (pardon the pun!) is the five finger reading method.
The Five Finger Rule
Open to a page and try to read.
Count the words you miss.
0 - 1 finger...easy
2 - 3 fingers...just right
4 - 5 fingers...hard
Therefore try to choose a book where you know all but 2-3 of the words, otherwise it could be too difficult.
I usually recommend the parent read the book aloud several times while pointing to the words. Once your child is has become familiar with the book he or she can begin to read it aloud to you. Read and track the words to a sentence, then have your child read aloud the sentence to you. You can eventually move on to paragraphs and pages until your child is able to read their book aloud to you independently. This is the wonderful aha moment that makes teaching children such a pleasure and joy.
So, here are four techniques that you can use in your child's road to reading. By using Dolch Words, Dolch Phases, phonograms and reading books aloud with your children, they will be on their way to mastering reading before your eyes!
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Joseph Addison
About The Author
Richard Flowers AA, BS, MS, CT, is an award winning teacher, author, consultant, artist and musician from Southern Oregon that has spent years researching how we learn.
He teaches using multiple intelligences, multi-sensory, hands on teaching techniques. He uses music, drama, art, memory systems, rhythm and
hands on science experiments to facilitate deep understanding. Richard's avocation is helping others. He deeply enjoys helping and communicating with parents
and others interested in communication, teaching, relationships, learning, parenting, education and personal growth. He answers all correspondence.