How do we teach our kids to read?
I am sure this is a common question among parents, and especially among homeschooling parents. I find this question a little redundant. We could just as easily ask, “how am I going to teach my baby to walk?” or, “how am I going to teach my child to talk?” We could stress about these questions and yet we don’t, so why do we let ourselves stress about teaching our children to read?
I would say that the best way to teach reading to our children is to provide a rich learning environment, to model reading by reading yourself, and to read to your kids on a regular basis. Make reading a part of your daily life and your children will want to be a part of that world. I would also say that teaching basic phonics is a great stepping stool to reading.
In our house we have always read to the kids. Right from when they first started liking books we have read with them. Just as you teach a child to talk by saying words, and interacting with them, so too you teach to read by reading to them and showing them words. Audiobooks are a great choice if you are not available to sit and read with them.
My oldest started really reading when she was 8. We never wanted to force her to read, we wanted it to be something she choose to do. We took our time teaching her things and never put pressure on ourselves or her. We also were not lazy, we provided her with materials, we taught her basic phonics, we played games about letters and words. We encouraged, we made it fun and we read to her as much as she wanted. At the age of 5, Raven could spell and write her name, she could recognize some basic words by age 6. The rest just happened on its own, I never even knew if she could read, she looked at lots of books, but I wasn’t sure if she was reading them. She didn’t like to be tested or to read aloud much so I just let her be, and I trusted that she would find her way. I am happy to say that she did! She can read fluently now at the age of 10. She just read Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead (a really good story) all on her own, she reads Calvin and Hobbes by herself and any other book she fancies. What I am most happy about is that she LOVES to read, she hasn’t developed a disdain for it, or felt like it is a chore. I feel that if I had pressured her and forced her, she may not have as much of a passion for reading.
My younger daughter is 7 and she has been reading since the age of 6. She could spell and write her name at age 4! (her big sister taught her). She loves to read too. She read aloud the whole first chapter of the Boxcar Children and only had to ask for pronunciation once (on the word politely). I think that is pretty amazing! Like all things that we learn, we learn best when we enjoy what we are doing. As adults we teach ourselves things all the time, what makes us think that children are any different?
Now both my older girls will help to teach their little brother to read and write. He, at the age of 2 already says, “O…F…R….S….” when he is drawing with a pencil, or he will go over to my husband and say, “how do you spell…..” and then he will go back over to his paper and draw little scribbles pretending to write the word! Its ADORABLE.
Now I just need to encourage them to write 🙂