Teaching kids to read…

[19 Jul 2010 | By | 17 Comment(s) | 2,827 views ]

So, a query for you more experienced parents out there:

The Boy just turned 5, and we’ve been wondering what and how much to do around beginning reading.   He loves to be read to — we read both picture and chapter books to him before bedtime every night, and he has a learning video game that he likes, that seems to have some basic phonics and sight words in it.  But he’s not really showing much interest in reading himself.   He can spell a few words, and is pretty good with letter sounds.  So I’m wondering… do we try to work on this with him, or just let it develop naturally, and let kindergarten worry about it in the fall?

I did think this was a cute idea from Filth Wizardry:  Using Duplo blocks to make words and sentences.

Here’s ‘learning to read toy’ from Quirky Momma: How to make a word learning Cootie Catcher. (via ParentHacks) (removed link because a virus warning was reported, and let Quirky Momma know)

Any other cool ideas to make learning to read fun?

Meh, enough learning…  for those who liked the Futurama cupcakes yesterday, here are some more featuring Brain Slugs (via Craftzine).

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17 Comment(s) »

  • Jenn [] :

    I would let it develop naturally rather than make him start to learn it. Provide him with some ways to show interest but let him have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude towards reading. If it becomes a task or a chore he’s going to hate it and then what was going to be an accomplishment for him will become a battle for you. Once he’s in school there’s going to be a greater opportunity and then he’ll see his friends start to read and it’ll skyrocket from there.

  • John [] :

    My five year old’s the same way.

    1. He earns a quarter for every reading practice session.

    2. If he doesn’t cooperate, he gets a time-out until he’s ready to focus.

    I’d say it took about two months of practicing at least every other day to get him to a point where he understood how to sound out words.

    I’ve learned that it’s often easiest to sound out words by breaking them into component parts and starting at the end of the word.

    For example, “starting:

    He knows what ing does. And then he knows the word art. then tart. then start. and finally starting. Very hard to work from the beginning with an “s” sound.

  • Cassie [] :

    My mom teaches kindergarten & from what I’ve gathered at grad school, you can help it happen naturally by reading, reading, reading aloud to him. Let him pick books that interest him and keep them accessible so he can explore them. Sight words cards are great to have around the house. You can also label the house. My mom labels her classroom with words like “door” and “sink.” You can find letter stamps and let him stamp them on paper or in playdough. If he’s a tactile kid, fill a small box with a small layer of sand and let him trace letters in it. I’d say my mom’s biggest concern with kids coming in to her class is that some don’t even know the alphabet or how to spell their own name. Other than that, she expects to be teaching most of them how to read.

  • adrienne [] :

    Though I feel like a bad parent writing this (especially with a background in literature), I credit my 4 year old’s ability to read to LeapFrog’s Tag reader.

    We are a family of readers, so he sees people reading all the time and we read with him at least twice daily. He also had storytime and letter recognition at preschool.

    But both Jim and I think he actually learned the primary mechanics from practicing (he would say playing or reading) with his much loved Tag.

    We actually didn’t know he could read until one day I grabbed a library book about kites since I knew they’d been discussing kites at preschool. I read some and then pointed at “kite” and asked him what it said. He went on to read the rest of the book while I tried to pick my jaw off the floor.

    A few weeks later an English professor friend told us a very similar story about her son. She also credits her son’s skills to Tag use.

    On the whole, I think much educational technology tends to be mental junk food, but the Tag seems to be actually teaching kids how to read (mostly by keeping them interested).

  • dot [] (author) :

    Thanks, guys, this is good input

    Jenn, That’s one of my concerns too… reading should be fun not a chore. But the expectations seem to be much higher these days, and I’d hate for him to be behind. :) But he’s stubborn, too!

    John, I haven’t done anything that formal. But he has Jumpstart on his computer and it has reading learning games. Plus they did letter sounds in pre-k. So he can usually get the first sound of a 3 letter word, maybe the ending sound, but he still has issues with vowels.
    I also gave him a “gem” (he earns those for behavior and stuff-which he can trade in for toys/treats) for writing 20 words down that he knew.

    Cassie, Good feedback on the kindergarten expectations. I would hope that would be the case, but ya never know these days. And i’m sure it varies from school to school, too. My other opposite fear is that he’ll know everything they teach at the beginning of kindergarten and be bored!

    Adrienne, I wasn’t familiar with the Tag, but it looks like a good idea. I expect it helps them connect words with what they look like, and expands their ‘site word’ vocabulary. Congrats on your brain child ;)

  • Aimee [] :

    Another in the “let it develop” camp. In some parts of Europe, they don’t begin to teach reading until age 7…and all of those countries have much higher literacy rates than the U.S.

    Both of my boys read at age 4, but it was purely developmental on their part. We didn’t teach reading, but we read to them. A LOT. They picked it up. My friend’s now 11-year-old son started reading well almost 3/4 of the way through first grade. He’s incredibly gifted in all areas (including reading!); his reading skills just naturally came a little later than my boys’. It’s all good.

  • Rachel [] :

    Can one be in both camps? My brother started reading late, like 8-9 years old, but graduated college at 19. So I know a lot of reading-readiness is developmental and not necessarily a measure of intelligence or later ability. That said, we try to encourage early reading with our kiddos, we are taking the summer “off” but in the Spring she was beginning to sound out words. Hopefully, we’ll be reading independently in the next year or two. Thanks for featuring one of our reading activities! You made my day!

  • Colleen [] :

    Well we are looking at this same issue, Arabella is supposed to enter first grade this year and is not a reader yet. Her sister was at about the same level entering first, good recognition but no reading. With Julia it clicked over Christmas holiday and by the end of the first year she tested at a 3rd grade reading level. This past spring (just finished 3rd grade) she test at a 14th grade (sophomore in college). Both of the girls listen to book on tape, all day, all the time. We read as a family, but I rarely read to them. Julia reads to her sister most night. We don’t push it, we buy books we read all the time. We will see how Arabella progresses most of my friend say it just happens, one day they can’t (won’t) do it the wham, they can.

  • Nancy [] :

    Have him read a favorite book out loud to you. It doesn’t matter if his story matches the books, it will get him comfortable reading out loud and will work that imagination.

    Quinn and I play a matching game on my laptop computer. I open Works, enlarge the arial font to a fairly large size and type a letter while he looks away. He has to find the matching letter on the keyboard and type it in. We work on his schedule- meaning we take breaks to look at pictures of Hot Wheels cars.

    Labeling things around the house with sticky notes helps and he can identify the letters as you print then say the word aloud. If you keep the words short, you can spell a word, have him repeat the letters, then send him off to find the labeled object. He can either bring the tag to you for reversing the game or call out and let you go verify his choice.

    I honestly believe when kids see their parents enjoying books and have their own close at hand, the love of reading will grow.

  • Beth [] :

    FYI My security program advised that the cootie catcher link has a Trojan Virus attached to it.

  • Katherine [] :

    I’m also in the “let it develop camp.” I think if kids are being read to, and around people who are reading, it will happen naturally. That’s what happened with me, and there’s statistics to back that up: there’s a high statistical correlation between children who are read to as very young children and literacy rates. As long as you keep stimulating The Boy, it’ll be fine, I’m sure. :)

  • Dot [] (author) :

    Thanks everyone!

    Katherine, I know, I’m probably over thinking this!

    Beth – thanks for the heads up, I checked it out and I’ve removed the link and let Quirky Momma know about the problem. I’ve had that happen before and it’s awful!

    Nancy – what a great idea for the computer game! We’re actually ‘writing’ books with him too… he thinks up the story and draws the pictures, and asks me how to spell words.

    Rachel, I think I’m in both camps too!

    Aimee, Good to hear both sides… I know it will all be fine, i’m just having parent first day of school jitters, I bet! I just remember being in the ‘top’ reading group (ie we had learned everything faster) so our little group got to do fun stuff, instead of boring stuff. So I want him to be ahead of the curve I suppose :)

  • Dot [] (author) :

    Colleen, I bet Arabella will be taking after her sis soon!
    I think we honestly are pushing reading too early these days. But on the other side of the coin, i don’t want him to be frustrated and behind. sigh..!

  • Katherine [] :

    ” But on the other side of the coin, i don’t want him to be frustrated and behind. sigh..!”

    Him? Or you? ;)

  • Dot [] (author) :

    Good point Katherine! Am I projecting?

  • Dot [] (author) :

    Actually, what I meant by that is that he tends to get frustrated and give up much easier than I’d like. I’ve seen him just quit his video game, rather than trying again and learning from his mistakes. So my fear is that if he starts out school frustrated, that he’ll mentally blow it off. If that makes sense.

  • Mrs. Q. [] :

    Don’t force it, but definitely encourage it! I borrowed Hooked On Phonics Learn to Read DVD/book series from my sister, who homeschools. My 5 yo son LOVES it. It includes a DVD to teach certain sounds, a workbook to reinforce the lesson and small books that review each chapter. After the first day, he read the included short book as was so proud. I also purchased Preschool Prep’s ‘Meet the Sight Words” video. To an adult, it is awfully boring and even grating, but my son (and 3 yo sister) likes it and was recognizing sight words within one viewing.

    Now neither of these programs are cheap, and nothing beats personal instruction and reading with your child, but I have found both programs are a nice alternative to the TV when they want some screen time. At least they learn something and I don’t have to listen to Dora.