Tuesday, November 5, 2019

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How to Teach Reading {Part 3 of 3}

If you've been following along with the How to Teach Reading series, you know that this is the final article! We laid the ground work with Pre-Reading for Preschoolers in Part 1, we discussed how to tell if your child is ready to read in Part 2, and now we are going to cover how to actually teach your child to read!

The good news is that once your child shows all the readiness signs I discussed in Part 2, there are literally a million different ways to teach him or her how to actually read!  And for the most part, they all work! Some work better than others, though, and that's what we're going to discuss here.

Research shows that the best reading instruction combines 3 elements: word study, phonics and decoding, and meaningful stories. This means that your reading lessons should include sounding out skills (word families, word meanings, rhyming, etc) AND sight words AND meaningful stories with these first two elements in them.  There are virtually unlimited ways to do this!  Each of my children, and other children I've taught, have learned through a different method.

As a homeschooling parent and/or classroom teacher, you basically have two options: 1- use a pre-made curriculum or 2- create your own. I'm going to address both of these.

First, How to Teach Reading with Pre-Made Curricula:

There are a LOT of amazing curricula available to teach reading! As long as the program includes the three elements I talked about above, your kids will be fine. Here are my personal favorites (in no particular order, I HIGHLY recommend both of these programs):

1- Reading Eggs: Reading Eggs has interactive lessons online, a set of readers that you can order that correspond to the lessons online, a set of corresponding workbooks, and a set of maps and reward stickers for each level. I purchased the readers for one of my 6-year olds and both she and my 3-year old (at the time) LOVED them. If your child enjoys online games (or your schedule needs you to share the teaching responsibility), this program is a great fit! I still recommend buying the physical workbooks and readers because the more senses you use, the better kids remember what they're learning. The child that I purchased these for did the online lessons at her leisure, read the books and did the workbooks with me, and then supplemented the lessons with a little extra sight word practice (read below for more details...our "practice" is quite fun). 

2- All About Reading from All About Learning Press: This is a physical curriculum that comes with readers, teacher script, magnetic manipulatives, a puppet, and more. I have two favorite things about this curriculum: 1- The readers are FANTASTIC! The stories are very creative and my kids really enjoy them. 2- The whole system uses an Orton-Gillingham (or multi-sensory) approach. This has been very helpful for my kids that were more dyslexic than the others because it required them to physically connect with and manipulate the letters and words they were working on. If you want to learn more about All About Learning programs, HERE is my affiliate link

Both of these programs literally tell you what to do in every lesson--teaching reading could not be easier!  You can supplement with topics or letters your kids are particularly interested in, some of the activities I share below, or just stick to the outline!

I have also looked at and used several curricula made by teachers and parents online. Again, as long as you've gone through the checklist, your child is ready, and the curriculum you are looking at includes all three elements, you should be good to go!

And remember you can do lessons at the kitchen table, a desk, on the floor, in a tent, outside, or anywhere else you want! Keep it fun!

Secondly, How to Teach Reading with Your Own Reading Curriculum:

Making your own reading curriculum is not difficult. Here is a step-by-step on what I would recommend:

1- Set aside 20 minutes a day for reading lessons. Plan to spend half of that in hands-on learning activities that review the concepts you've introduced in the first half. If your child is particularly excited, you could have two 20-minute sessions in a day. ;)

2- Print a list like this one of the 44 phonemes in English as a planning reference. Simply check off each phoneme as your child masters it. Keep this in your teaching materials.

3- Choose a set of readers. It is VITAL that your child has little books to read! You can buy the readers from either of the curricula I discussed above (without buying the whole curriculum), check some out from the library, buy a pre-owned set, find some online, or even make your own! Look for books that only introduce 1 or 2 new letters and only 1 sight word with each book.

4-  Make an outline of the order you want to teach the letters and sounds. I always start with my child's name--those are the most meaningful letters you can find for your child!  Then I go in the same order as the reader set I'm using.  This is a common order I've used, more or less (often my kids will be interested in a letter out of order, and I always go with what they're interested in!):

I only introduce one or two sounds for each letter at a time. I like this order because it lets them form words immediately, during the first lesson! But, since I'm flexible with the order, it's handy to have the phoneme chart in #2 to keep track of what sounds you need to cover.

5- During your lessons, introduce a new letter or review a letter you're working on. You can do this by writing, reading, or playing games. Then introduce and/or review sight words. This can also be done by writing, reading, or playing games!  I use the sight words in the readers we're working on or a list like Dolche's or Fry's.  Finally, end with a chance for your child to practice written activities that include the letters and words in your lesson.

Here are a few activities that you can use to teach and/or reinforce letters and sounds

Alphabet Hop (I love that she went with the random letters her daughter wanted to use!)

Letter Sorting
Magnetic Letter Sorting

These activities reinforce different phonics skills:

Rhyming Word Family Game (I LOVE that she used lavender in her bin--the sense of smell activates memory centers in your brain!)

And these activities can be used with sight words.

Tactile Spelling (for sight words)

I'm sure you can start to imagine the HUGE variety of ways you can teach reading! 

I'm going to throw in just a few more notes about what I've learned working with dyslexic readers:

1- They CAN learn to read beautifully!

2- They NEED hands-on, kinesthetic activities to learn the fastest. Letter cards, blocks, and tiles are extrememly helpful.

3- The more senses they use, the better! This is why I love All About Reading. Look up Orton-Gillingham if you want to learn more about multi-sensory reading activities.

4- Small letters on crowded pages are literally painful for these kids to read. We learned this the hard way when we tried a popular reading curriculum that just doesn't work for dyslexic kids. The "white space" around the letters you're working with is extremely important.

5- Don't give up! Dyslexic kids process reading differently than other kids--you just need to give their brains a little time to wrap around the process. If you find yourself struggling, don't be afraid to reach out and get help. Every school district has people specially trained to help dyslexic kids learn to read--giving them a call is not a sign of giving up!

Be confident and patient with your kiddos--your confidence will build theirs, and you'll have little readers in no time!

Learning to read and being part of the teaching process is an exciting adventure to go on with your kids!

I hope I've made the process a little more approachable with this series, and that you and your children have a wonderful time learning to read together!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the posts in this series--you can always leave a comment, send an email, or catch me on Facebook or Instagram! <3 

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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KEYWORDS: pre-reading, how to teach reading