All children are alike in that they all want to become readers and spellers, eager to open that important door to independent learning. Children are different when it comes to the when, why, how, and what works best when it comes to reading and spelling. By understanding and knowing how to work with these differences, parents can prepare the proper and most direct road to reading and spelling proficiency and ensure that your child has a lifelong enjoyment of the skills.
Is It Time?
Your six month-old baby didn't show any signs of possessing the preliminary skills necessary to put on their shoes, so you didn't waste time and energy trying to teach them how. Instead, you patiently helped them gain the coordination and waited until they had a good chance to succeed before showing them how to do this themselves, right?
Well, the same principle applies when determining if your child is ready to start learning to read and spell. The age at which a child is ready to read and spell can vary dramatically. Children can start from the age of three years old on up to eleven years old and beyond, but generally reading and spelling occurs between the age of four and ten years old.
The age of readiness or desire to read and spell can be easily determined by paying attention to the clues that children freely provide. Here are some signs of reading and spelling readiness:
- Your child pretends to read
- Your child maintains phonemic awareness or knows the sounds that letters make.
- You notice your child takes interest in the environments written words on street signs, cereal boxes, TV, magazines, flyers, books, etc.
- Your child looks at pictures and tells a story or repeats a known story in her own words
- If your child can add the missing word to an incomplete sentence presented orally
- If they can define or give the meaning of simple words
- If they use left to-right progression
- If they can pronounce their own first and last names
- If they can print their name
Why Would a Child Want to Read and Spell?
As an adult, you most likely would not spend hours trying to learn something that you have no interest in simply because someone told you that you "have to" learn it, right? Children are no different. This is why it is very important that we help children find reasons why they should learn to read and spell.
Most children will quickly learn how to read and spell once they find a good reason to do so. Maybe your child desires to hear more stories than you could possibly find time to read to them. Or maybe they want to learn how to play a game, or use the computer. What ever it is, helping your child find reasons to read and spell is just as important as the reading and spelling itself.
Be sure to provide daily examples of the many motivations to begin reading and spelling. Talk with your child about why its important and explain to them the opportunities that await them when they can read and spell. Give them examples:
- To understand how to play a new game (learning how-to)
- To learn more about the ocean (a way to get information and news)
- To write a letter to Grandma (personal communication)
- To be able to read great stories (enjoyment)
How Can You Help Them to Read and Spell?
It has long been debated which approach is best to use when teaching a child to read and spell. Some educator‘s stand strongly by the Phonics approach and others use the language approach. This "Battle" can be put to rest with the results of two decades of research on the "Best Way to Learn How to Read", funded by the National Institute of Health.
Researchers at the National Institute of Health discovered that there are three important aspects of reading.
- Part 1: Phonemic awareness, or learning the individual sounds that constitute a language, for example, "buh" as the sound of "b"
- Part 2: Phonics, or the letter-sound relationships available in the language
- Part 3: Exposure to the meaning of the written word by reading to the child as well as having the child begin to read independently
All three of these parts are very important building blocks when teaching a child to read and spell as each piece is necessary to support the next. With phonemic awareness as the first building block (Part 1), a child can begin to piece together words in books. Add a helpful person by their side and they will begin to ask questions, which lets you know that they are at the "phonics phase" (Part 1). Now is the time to point out important clues, such as how letter sounds blend, how an "e" at the end of a word changes a vowel sound from short to long, or how some consonants have more than one sound. You can also show them upper and lower case letters. It is also important at this time to show them the eighteen frequently used words best learned by sight. Remember, through it all keep reading to your child to include exposure to meaning, the equally important (Part 3).
Here Are Some Helpful Tips To Get Your Child Interested in Reading and Spelling:
- Read aloud to your child from books, but also mail, instruction booklets, grocery lists, etc. (and don't stop even when your child can read independently!)
- Take turns "drawing" a letter on each other's back with your fingers; guess what it is, tell them what sound it makes
- Encourage hands-on play with magnetic letters and sponge letters in bath; sound out the nonsense words your child creates with them
- Show them how fun it is to trace letters with crayons or colored pencils
- Cut out letters from different types of paper; make some "ABC" craft projects
- Play word games like Hangman, Junior Scrabble, Boggle, ABC Bingo, word searches, or make up you own game asking them: "What begins with 'buh?' or "What ends with 'guh'?"
- Write a single letter on some Post-It notes and make it into a game having your child stick them on everything beginning with that letter
- Pick a "sight word of the day," then have your child call it out every time you find it in a story
- Leave fun engaging looking books around the house and car for your child to find and pick up
- Provide a quiet period when you both get you favorite book and go off to read alone
- Get cozy! Or make it an adventure for them. Read to them at night under a blanket with a flashlight, or read them a adventure story outside in a play tent.
What Are Some Great Products To Get Started With?
Maintaining interest and encouraging practice is very important, as your child needs plenty of opportunity to read whatever captures their attention, be it comic books, Dr. Seuss, or the newspaper's sports page. Get your child their very own library card and visit the library weekly, allowing them to choose their own books, supplemented by others you pick out. Order a kids magazine subscription or get them a reading game. Make sure whatever they are reading is at the appropriate reading level to ensure success and reduce frustration. Continue to read aloud to them, reading more difficult things as this will help to progressively stretch their vocabulary.
Sustained practice allows your child to hone their reading skills, and your interest in what they independently read provides encouragement. Ask them about what's happening in the story or ask them to tell you about their favorite part in the story. Not only will this allow you to gauge comprehension and answer questions that they may have, it gives the child confidence knowing that you are interested and excited about their newfound skill.
Two truly amazing programs that we have found that incorporate all aspects necessary to get your child reading and spelling are ClickN READ Phonics and ClickN SPELL. These online beginning reading and spelling programs are designed for children as young as 4 years old. ClickN READ teaches the complete K-3rd grade phonics curriculum taught at USA public schools and ClickN SPELL teaches 800 of the most commonly used words in the English language. They are great for children who are learning to read and spell for the first time, those who are struggling with reading as well as children with learning disabilities.
These programs actually simulate live classroom instruction. The onscreen cartoon instructor speaks to the child exactly like an expert teacher would in a classroom setting. The lessons are taught in colorful interactive space themed classrooms lovable fun cartoon characters, which keep the kids entertained as they learn, making learning to read and spell so much fun that they think it's a game.
This program is also extremely easy to use, so easy that children can use the program all by themselves. This helps build your child's confidence through self-achievement. It is also easy for us parents as everything needed is built into the program and it is the only product you will need to teach your kids to read and spell. The program is used online just like viewing standard web pages your child can use it at home, at Grandma's, at the office or while on vacation. There is no software to install and no waiting for shipping. You just complete your purchase and immediately begin using the products.
The results are proven and the testimonies are so incredible that the company offers a 60-day guaranteed refund if you're not satisfied with the results simply get your money back!
This article was written by the people at ClickN READ Phonics and ClickN SPELL, but I agree with them. The tips that they give you in this article are the things that I actually did with my own daughter. Of course, I didn't have the advantage of being able to use their products, but if I had, I am sure I would have used them. They have a 60-day money back guarantee so you have nothing to lose.