Teaching your child to read can be so hard. For some it comes easy, for others it can be the stumbling block of a lifetime. As a teacher of second grade I saw both types of readers in my students. It can be so hard to watch your child struggle with such an important and necessary skill. There are a few things we can do as a parents to help them along their way, the earlier you start the better.
I received compensation for this post, all opinions are my own.
Read to Your Kids: This activity does so much more than just introduce your kids to books. It helps their cognitive skills as well as increases their vocabulary. It is the most important thing you as a parent can do to encourage your reader. It is never to early to start reading with your kids. I start with mine as newborns, they love to hear the sound of your voice and it won’t be long before those colorful pictures start to catch their eyes! Follow along the words with your fingers and kids will begin to understand that those silly shapes on the bottom of the page actually mean something.
Expose them to the Alphabet: Obviously the alphabet is a starting point for early readers. Learning the names of the letters can be tricky, especially when kids learn that not only do they have a name, but they make a sound as well. One tool I love is the Babyfonics Genius app.
Instead of teaching your child what the name of a letter is, it simply teaches them the sound. So instead of saying that a “M” is and “M” your child will identify it as “mmmmm”. By skipping the letter name your child will be able to easily make the transition to sounding out words. The example used in the app is of Joey and Courtney. Joey knows his letter names, Courtney does not but she knows her LETTERSOUNDS instead. When the teacher asks them to read the word ant, Joeny responds “A….N…T.” while Courtney says “aaaaa…nnnn….ttttt, Ant!” Seams pretty simple right?
That is my favorite thing about this app, the simplicity of it. Rather than coming with flashing lights and colors, crazy cartoons, and games. It just gives you a quick intro video for each phase and then lets you work with your child on the sounds. It gives you tips and tricks for games you can play with your child while they are learning. Even though you are using technology in the form of an iPad or iPhone, your child is not plugged into a screen. They are still actively engaged in their learning and the world around them.
Because of the simplicity of the app and program, you can start learning Babyfonics at a very early age and continue using it as your readers grow. If your child is old enough to identify a dog or a ball, they are old enough to identify an “A”. Then as they get older you can have them apply what they have learned in the world around them and begin sounding out whole words. This app is perfect for any age of early reader and grows with them as they learn. Best of all is FREE in the app store, you can find it here.
Talk About It: As your child learns their letters and sounds, talk about it. We talk about letters and reading all the time. When we are driving in the car I can call out a word and my kids will call out what letter it starts with. They love to give me a sound or letter and see how many words we can come up with together that start with that sound. Let them call out things they see out the window and figure out the starting sounds together. It is much more fun and a better learning opportunity for your child then having them watch a movie in the back seat.
Build Their Confidence: Learning to read and being at school can be scary and intimidating. Encourage your child. Tell them how smart they are. Even when they are struggling, show them that it is okay. They have to have someone in their corner cheering for them in the good times and the bad.
All kids learn at their own pace, but by encouraging your child and making sure they have been exposed to the elements of reading you can help them be as prepared as possible for reading when they are ready.
For more information on the Babyfonics app visit their website, babyfonics.com.