Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to Prepare Your Child to Read in 5 Easy Steps

1. Read to your child early and often. When they are at the stage of being able to understand what you're doing, follow along with your finger as you're reading each word. This will help them realize that you are reading left to right, sounding out words, and what the words look like. Having many books in your home and reading to your child every day will foster a love of stories and reading that will last a lifetime. Teaching your child to read, is one thing. Teaching your child to love to read is another. The process of learning to read should to be a natural progression of push and retreat, as they become ready for each new stage. It needs to be a positive, playful and fun process if you want your child to ultimately enjoy reading.

2. Teach your child the alphabet song so that they begin to learn the names of the individual letters and their alphabetical order. Singing and playing is the best way to keep your child open to receiving new information. With repetition, your child will begin to memorize the alphabet which is the basis for learning how to read. Next, they need to see the shape of each letter as they sing the ABC's. This will help them associate the name of the letter with what the letter looks like, both capital and lower case.

3. Have educational alphabet toys around the house. There are many letter toys that say the name of the letter and the phonetic sound that letter makes. Playing is a no pressure learning zone. Some of the beneficial toys include; letters your child can play with in the bathtub when their attention is more focused. You can have your child find certain letters, and then say the phonetic sound it makes. Create fun games with them. There are also magnetic letter sets you can put on your refrigerator in the kitchen. Those are nice because they are constantly available. Your child interacts with the individual magnetic letters by putting them into a small magnetic letter reader which then says the name of the letter, the sound it makes, and sings a little song about it. This is a wonderful toy because it is so accessible being in the kitchen. It's nice when your child is interested in something that can hold their attention while it is teaching them at the same time. Then of course, there are many DVDs that can entertain your child as well as broaden their pre-reading education.

4. Interact with your child and the letters of the alphabet. Engage your child in alphabet games. Finding letters is like a scavenger hunt adventure. As you go about your day, make it a game to find each letter of the alphabet on anything you see, from labels, signs or billboards etc. Depending on your child's level, you can merely have one letter of the day each day, or if they are more advanced you can go systematically though the alphabet in alphabetical order. Reinforce the phonetic sound the letter makes once that letter is identified. Remember to also reinforce your child's accomplishment to encourage them to learn even more.

5. Once your child can recognize letters, identify letter names and the phonetic sound each letter makes, they have mastered the foundation for learning how to read. At this stage, when you're reading to them, progressively get them more involved. Have your child sound out a word or two as you're reading along together. Not guessing the word because they already know the story, but actually sounding out the individual letters and putting them together to make a little word. At first, use very small words like "u" "p", "up". A little at a time, they will feel the pride of accomplishing a job well done. For positive reinforcement you can reward them with stickers for their success. Children love learning new things, and even tiny achievements help build their self-esteem.

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