Learning to Read

For me it feels more natural to teach my kids to read before they learn to write.  They seem to want to know what things say but they’re not so bothered about writing them down so I start with reading and follow their pace on the writing.   I do lots of drawing and arts with them to help them with their motor control so that when we do some writing they are ready for it but unlike at school, where teachers might need to be setting tasks that require writing, at home we can talk about things instead of writing them down.  I’ve found that this chapter from Susan Wise Bauers book was helpful although I didn’t do everything at the ages she mentions.  One of my children was reading fluently at 4 and another at 8.

I’ve used sounding out (systemic phonics) with all my children in the end because:

i) they learn good habits like reading from left to right and sounding out words they don’t understand (whole word sight reading can make them guess and end up reading backwards or in a muddled way).

ii) I find the rules reassuring.  It gives me confidence because we take a step at a time and it works!

And just as Susan says in that chapter:  READING IS SIMPLE.  If a 5 year old can learn to do it then you can learn to help them so don’t worry.  I just stayed slightly ahead of mine using a system like Mona McNee’s CatPhonics (which is free and also includes writing if you want to do that although I found mine were ready to read before they were ready to write) and it’s fine!  Find a list of early readers here.

I also used Reading Eggs which was really useful for a few months. The games just provided that repetition and reinforcement necessary to get fluent with those early sounds.  There are lots of free phonic games out there but it depends how much time you want to devote to keep checking that they are playing at the right level for them.  Reading Eggs do an app called Eggy Phonics for the ipad.  

And yes, I also did have a dyslexic child and I tried every method under the sun (he was also my first child!).  Using phonics gave him that lightbulb moment we had been waiting for and then I found that my second child who had been listening to it all was reading too.

The joy of helping your child learn to read is wonderful!  I loved being a part of their discovery.


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