Sunday, October 30, 2005

Learning to read

Learning to read is an exciting time for children and their families. For many parents, helping their child learning to read establishes a pattern for their involvement in their child's academic education. Here are a few important hints:

Be Involved and Patient

Learning to read is the culmination of a great many learned skills and developmental processes. Learning to read is a long-term program. At times, there is no visible progress. At other times, they make dramatic daily progress. In all cases, show patience, confidence, and be encouraging. Keep the focus on the progress they've made and how proud you are, avoid accidentally over-focusing on the skills that they have not yet learned.

Learn about learning to read

There are many great books and websites on learning to read. While you don't need to know all the latest theories about learning to read, there are some basics which you should understand. My favorite sources are SEDL or Todays Learners Reading Articles. The Time4Learning free newsletter provides useful and digestible insights into how children learn to read and how parents can help teach them. It also points to the best websites, articles, resources, and books for more info on a specific steps or issues in learning to read.

Learning to Read has a sequence

Just as children start with T-ball before playing baseball, there are specific steps in learning to read. Trying to teach the steps out of sequence can inadvertently frustrate your child (and you).
For instance, prior to successfully learning phonics, the child should master a set of pre-reading skills including understanding basic print concepts, discerning the sounds, understanding that words are made up of sounds which they need to think about as interchangeable parts (ie phonemic awareness), and memorizing the alphabet.

To help parents understand the steps in learning to read, look at The Reading Skills Pyramid . And while most children do follow this sequence, be aware that each child is different and that there are a great number of variations. Three common errors to avoid are:

  1. Starting with phonics. There are vital reading readiness skills to develop prior to children being ready to succeed with phonics.
  2. Overlooking how much work and technique goes into developing reading comprehension skills. Reading comprehension is a learned skill, not a "natural" one.
  3. Noticing a problem and not getting to the real root of the issue. For instance, many apparent weaknesses in comprehension are due to a child struggling with word decoding. Many problems in learning to read have to do with visual perception issues.

Learning to Read is Multimodal

Learning to read is easiest if you involve all the children's learning styles and modalities. They should see the words on wall posters and have learning toys. As they learn the letters, have letters to play with (I had some big 6 inch plastic ones for my kids), drawing books with letters, playing letter games with them on the computer, and of course, seeing the letters in books. Each of these different activities helps develop prereading skills using a different learning modality.

Online Learning - Time4Learning is an Effective Fun Service

The Time4Learning language arts program can serve as a core or supplementary curriculum for children learning to read. Learn about how Time4Learning's online reading program can help your children's education. Time4Learning is built around the award-winning CompassLearning Odyssey for home use and includes math, science, and social studies.

By John Edelson, Founder - Time4Learning - Online Interactive Homeschool Curricula

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for your article. It's hard to overestimate the importance of reading and writing for our children. Frankly, in this age of texting and email, etc. it seems to be becoming a lost art. We have people graduating from business school who can't even write a memo!

The best thing to do is get your children started on reading as early and as often as you possibly can. A love of reading will serve them well their whole lives.

I hope you will consider visiting to see what tools are available to make learning fun for child and parent.