As tomorrow is Read Across America, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about teaching your child to read.
If you’ve followed this blog very long, you’ve likely realized that I don’t offer many printables or worksheets. I’ve had some readers question this, and I’ve also missed out on some opportunities to promote my blog because I don’t have these things!
(Really, it comes down to my educational philosophy, I guess. I suppose I should write more about that — maybe another day!!)
Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not saying worksheets are bad — I just don’t think they are necessary for little ones! I like to see preschoolers building with blocks, playing outside, using their imaginations, and thumbing through books rather than filling out a worksheet!
And so, the ideas I’m going to share about teaching your child to read have nothing to do with worksheets or pages of phonics (although I do believe phonics are necessary for a balanced approach to reading)!
I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I believe these components are absolutely essential to build proficient and avid readers!
(My little reader!!)
1) Read aloud to your child. Often.
Probably not what you expected for my top idea, huh? However, this is absolutely the most crucial part of teaching your child to read. They must be immersed in books! And it needs to be often throughout the day! A token book before bed is not what I’m talking about here (although I’m guilty of this sometimes)! Chunks of time devoted to reading aloud throughout the day are going to make reading come alive for your child (you should even read to your babies and toddlers — I used to read to the girls while they were in their high chairs)!
One of my favorite books about how and why you should read aloud to your child is The Read-Aloud Handbook from Jim Trelease. Equally inspiring is Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox.
2) Read beside your child.
Do your children see you reading? You can’t expect them to embrace something you don’t model!! Even if it is just 10 or 15 minutes reading a chapter from a book, your children can see that reading is important to you. They are watching you!
Here’s how we do it: Our Bible time in the morning consists of me reading my Bible and the girls “reading” their Bibles right alongside me. We also have a quiet time in the afternoon where we all read our own books. Also, I really want to encourage dads here! Please, read in front of your children. Little boys especially NEED to see you reading and to hear you read aloud to them!
3) Fill your home with print.
A “print-rich” environment is correlated with academic success, so fill your home with books, magazines, and newpapers! Even when my girls were babies, I had a basket of board books in the living room and baskets of books in their bedrooms. Now, each girl has her own bookshelf filled with books!
You may not have a lot of room, but even just a box of books under the bed is an excellent start! If money is an issue, look at garage sales, used bookstores, or an online service like Paperback Swap.