The first step to teaching your child to read is to help your child recognize the alphabet letters. Obviously this is crucial to reading. I feel it is best to teach both upper case and lower case letters simultaneously. In reading, both formats are used. Capital letters always start a sentence, and are used for names and names of places. The rest are all lower case.
If you feel your child is not ready to learn both together, then I suggest teaching the lower case letters first as they are the letters used most often. Make sure to explain the proper use of upper and lower case letters to your child. As I just mentioned, upper case letters are the first letter of a word starting a sentence, and the first letter of every name or name of a place. Children learn and function well when they are taught in a consistent manner.
It is useful to create a schedule or pattern to your lessons. Choose a couple of activities that you consistently use for each letter. For example, each week use a magazine to make a letter of the week collage, also create a letter of the week out of clay for display. Then choose a couple of other activities to mix it up so that for each letter you have three or four or more activities to reinforce letter identification.
The total number of activities and time you spend teaching each letter depends on your child's abilities and your available time. You could do one letter per week or one letter every two weeks. Only you can determine the teaching schedule to be used. Just be sure that your teaching method is consistent. In the next section we will be talking about letter sounds. You may teach letter identification and sounds separately or together.
It would probably be easiest to teach them together. But again, you need to assess your child's abilities and tailor a program that is best for their needs. Your child may already be able to identify different letters of the alphabet through the activities you have been participating in while preparing them to read. You can start teaching your child to identify the letters of the alphabet as soon as they are able to point to and identify objects and pictures towards the end of stage 2. However they may not be able to grasp the meaning of letters and sounds until later. I must stress the importance of making this an enjoyable experience again.
Do not push your child to do something if they are not ready. While working on reading if your child seems unable or unwilling to learn or cooperate, stop and try again at a later time. If it seems your child is doing well but has a difficult time paying attention or sitting still, make your sessions shorter. Ten or fifteen minutes are fine.
Even five minutes can be productive. On the same note, you want your lessons and activities to be fun. Think back to your own school days.
I bet there is a teacher you remember even now for their silly and engaging teaching style. Which lessons do you tend to remember, the dry pen and paper lessons, or the fun and silly games? Learning can and should be fun! You may use flash cards, puzzles, or other purchased games that aid in letter identification. Use all kinds of materials to make your letters such as clay, play dough, pipe cleaners, even shaving cream.
You can use shaving cream on a table or other surface to write letters in. Its fun, messy, and it leaves your table and child smelling clean and refreshing! Another game I like to play involves using every day situations and products and discussing what letter the objects begin with. For example, at breakfast while your child eats their cereal talk about the letters found on the cereal box.
Point and say, You are eating cornflakes this morning. Here it says cornflakes. Cornflakes start with a see. Point to the C, C says kuh, kuh, kuh. Can you think of other words that may start with the C sound? By reading the labels, signs, and titles you see every day your child will begin to identify them on his or her own. Soon they will be reading them to you! It may be just that they have memorized different labels, but this is also a sign that they are learning to identify the letters.
Discussions are a big part of your child's learning. Talk about and discuss all things in your surroundings. For example, if you are playing catch discuss what letter ball starts with. If you walk by a sign, point out the letters of the sign and the sounds they make.
Learning does not have to include paper and pencil or flashcards. Use life experiences when ever possible. This makes learning real and children can relate what they learn to their own life.
As always, reading aloud together is the number one activity for preparing and teaching your child to read. As you reed, point out the letters in the story and discuss the illustrations. There are many books out there that have story plots which revolve around the alphabet.
You can find them at any store which sells children's books.
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