You Can Teach Your Child To Read! Week 2

Last week we talked about teaching your child the sounds of the letters of the alphabet.  Your assignment was to teach your kindergarten age child two letter-sounds. This week you will learn how to produce your own letter cards on the computer, and you will teach three new letter-sounds to your child.

Make your own letters on the computer.  Use the Arial font because it has simpler letter shapes.  Make the letters BIG—in at least a size 200—while your child is learning the letter-sounds.  You will be able to print between 4 and 9 letters per page.  Print it onto cardstock if possible, and cut the letters apart.  As before, teach only one new letter-sound at a time, but continue to review previously learned sounds. This is important.  It may seem slow at first, but you want your child to have plenty of time to recognize the shape of the letter and to associate it with its sound before you introduce a new one.

These are letter-sounds to teach this week.  Note:  Teach the short sound of the letter o.  It makes a sound like /aw/ as you hear in the word dog. After your child has learned these first five letter-sounds, we will talk about learning to blend the sounds to make words.

Many children, especially boys, are not going to sit down, fold their hands at a little desk, and wait to find out what you want them to learn. So don’t ask them to sit if they want to stand, and don’t spend more than couple of minutes at a time teaching the sounds. The key to teaching active children is to teach a little at a time, several times a day. If you are working and are not home all day, you can still do this—you might want to teach one thing right after work, repeat the teaching just before dinner or just after dinner and repeat it again just before bedtime. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as there is repetition. After your child has learned these first five letter-sounds, we will talk about learning to blend the sounds to make words.

What Is A Good Reading Program—How Should We Teach Reading?

Landmark research was conducted on reading instruction by The National Reading Panel from 1997-2000.  Their job was to analyze the research on reading and to discover what was most effective in teaching children to read. This study resulted in the Report of The National Reading Panel, Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction (1).

The conclusions of the National Reading Panel were that children needed specific kinds of teaching that should be included within a good reading instruction program.  Summarized, these were:

  • Phonemic Awareness Instruction—This simply means that children learn that there are sounds (or phonemes) in words, and that these sounds can be moved around (add a sound or subtract a sound) or manipulated, to change words into different words.
    • Example 1:  Add the sound /s/ to the word ‘pot’ and it becomes the word ‘spot.’
    • Example 2:  Tell me how many sounds you can hear in the word ‘me’ (two sounds: /m/ and /ee/).
  • Phonics Instruction—Knowing that written letters represent sounds, and that we can connect the sounds to make words.  This instruction is much more effective if the instruction is systematic and sequential and followed up by reading real words using the phonics instruction just given.
    • Example 1:  The letter B makes the sound /b/.
    • Example 2:  Connect these sounds, /t/ – /o/ – /p/, to make the word ‘top.’  Connect these sounds, /h/ – /o/ – /p/, to make the word ‘hop’.  Read the sentence: ‘Hop on top.’
  • Fluency Instruction—Reading with accuracy, expression, and enough speed to understand the meaning of what you read. Reading aloud (with guidance) and having reading material at the right level of difficulty helps students develop fluency.
  • Comprehension—Understanding and thinking about the meaning of what is being read.
  • Vocabulary Instruction—Teaching students the meanings of the words he/she will be reading.

When you, as a parent or teacher, are considering a reading program for your students, look for a program that will include and integrate these elements along with the stories that students are reading.  Phonics instruction is much more effective when it is used in meaningful reading right after it has been taught, rather than as isolated practice.

Next time, we will talk about teaching phonemic awareness.  Happy Reading!

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