What’s the best way to teach children to read?
This is a perennial question among educators and parents that often has many answers.
Whilst there is no doubt that there are specific, repeatable techniques and tools, it is HOW the child is responding to these methods that is critical to their success as a reader, as well as their perception of their abilities as a reader. I will come back to this in a moment.
Basic reading techniques
So, what are some of the basic techniques used by many effective educators to teach our children how to read? Can they be used by ‘non-professional’ parents and educators to introduce or enhance their child’s ability to read?
Keep it simple
Like many things in life, it is often simplicity itself that is the real jewel. Put simply, reading is really de-coding a jumble of symbols and letter conventions in order to communicate and convey meaning between us humans. After all, it probably got a bit boring in the primal caves looking at pictures of animals.
So, let’s start with some pre-schoolers, say aged 3-5 years old.
Make it fun
Firstly, make it FUN. If it’s not fun, for them it’s not learning! It’s hard work! Some simple techniques to use include the following:
Get hold of some spongy/foam – type letters (usually available from most toy or craft stores ). Use bath time as reading time. Well, letter recognition time anyway. Start with their name. After all, we are ALL the centre of our Universes and children are no different.
During bath time, get them to select, with our guidance, the letters corresponding to their names. They then use the wet spongy letters and stick their names onto the side of the bath. Repeat this with simple two and three letter words such as:
Now when bath time is over, simply extend this process and use chalk on a chalkboard to duplicate the letters and words. Pretty soon your child will recognise and ‘read’ them to you.
Make words tangible
Reinforce these skills using some tactile kinesthetic techniques.
One of the simplest and best for this developmental age is using Plasticine or play dough. Children love to shape the letters to make meaningful words and then see them displayed.
Give the child the reins
For older children who are experiencing difficulty in advancing their reading skills, again, there are a variety of techniques that can empower them both as better readers and successful learners.
One of the most empowering things you can do for your child at this stage is to empower them with control of the reading process. Let them select material to be read. This makes them feel in control of the reading process.
Use the five-finger selection process here; if there are more than five words on any page of a book, then usually, it is too difficult for them and will slow their reading progress. So get your child to choose another book.
Empower your child to learn
Using ANY technique to teach or improve a child’s reading ability MUST empower the child ~ from the inside.
In taking the time to keep this at the front of our minds as teachers and parents, we go a long way to empowering our children to be successful life-long learners in this Information Age.
Reading is the core skill that all children must master to succeed in school and in life. One way to help them build a strong foundation for their entire school career is through our Pre-Kinder Literacy Program. This program commences in May and July. Learn more about it here. Alternatively talk to one of experienced tutors about getting learning support for your child – Contact us here.