Teach your children to read

People ask me how my kids learned to read before starting school. The answer is of course that I read to them and with them every day (And let them play Game Cube!). Here are some tips and a few great resources. As Glen Doman pointed out in his book, How To Teach Your Baby To Read (The Gentle Revolution) for young children, the process for learning to read is very much like learning to talk. A few similarities:

  • Before you ever start trying to teach your child to read, read to them out loud a lot, whether it’s children’s books or whatever book you happen to be reading. Just like you’d talk to your child before trying to teach them how to talk.
  • Just as you enunciate clearly and loudly to teach your child a new word, words they read should be clearly written with BIG letters and should also be spoken clearly.
  • Start with words that will be relevant to your child (Momma, Daddy, other family names, animals, body parts, etc), reviewing old words and learning a few new words each day.
  • Don’t start with overly complicated words, but you don’t necessarily have to avoid complicated words for a long time either.
  • Make a BIG DEAL about their accomplishments 🙂
  • ‘Games’ are great as long as the child enjoys them, but don’t bore them with ‘tests’ or by trying to show them off to friends. Keep it fun for them. In fact, try to stop playing the game BEFORE they’re ready to quit, and they’ll look forward to playing again.
  • Don’t ‘dumb-down’ words for your child, but don’t be so critical of mistakes that the experience is unpleasant for them. For example, you wouldn’t teach your baby to say ‘wah-wah’ instead of water, nor would you yell at them for saying ‘wah-wah.’ Just point them in the right direction, gently.
  • Your child does not have to have the alphabet ‘down’ before starting reading, any more than you’d expect them to be able to recite it before their first word.

For more information, I _highly_ recommend reading How To Teach Your Baby To Read (The Gentle Revolution)
by Glenn Doman and The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. My parents used this method 30 years ago. It was effective then and still is effective today
🙂 Read more about the Gentle Revolution here.

Another AWESOME resource is starfall.com. My kids absolutely adore that website, and they’re now both super computer savvy to boot.

If you’re LDS, you know that reading the Book of Mormon daily brings huge blessings to you and your family, but did you know your children can be blessed intellectually as well? Buy a large-print book from the distribution center (hard covers hold up much better) and simply have your child sit in your lap and point with them to each word as you read it. I don’t force my kids (4 and 3 now) to read with me the entire time or even sit still the entire time. I read with a normal speed and inflection and stop to answer whatever questions they have. I’ve found as long as the experience is pleasant for them, they want to do it often.

Once they’re interested in reading a few words, such as “And it came to pass”, you might start teaching them a the most common words. Here are some Book of Mormon reading cards with the 160 most frequently used words (each of them being used well over 150 times and some of them thousands of times). Just print these pages on card stock, cut the stack down the center, then cut each stack into 2.2″ tall strips. Have fun!

Oh and I almost forgot. My sister-in-law MaryBeth dutifully pointed out how instrumental the Game Cube has been in our children’s early reading adventures. Aren would get frustrated waiting for someone to come tell him what the screens said, so when they did come and tell him, he’d pay close attention, and often make them repeat it once more. He is an awesome reader now. Ethan’s been less motivated that way lately. He’s like his dad & just skips all the dialogue to get on with the game. Sometimes I make his game play contingent on stopping to read the screens, but then we’re faced with a negative incentive (read it or I take the game away) which is unfortunately less effective. But as for the short screens you can’t really skip past, even Mary (who plays less) at age 2 could tell you what each one said, even when written on plain paper. Hooray for Nintendo!

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