Reading has to make sense to your child. When choosing books to use as you begin to teach reading, make sure there are complete sentences – one simple sentence per page. And that there is a very simple story line. This helps make the reading meaningful.
There isn’t much meaning in a bunch of letters and sounds so if you’re teaching your child to read only through phonics, that is, by sounding out the letters, the reading will not be meaningful. And you’ll be severely limiting your child’s reading tool box.
Phonics is just one of the tools, but the “mega-power tool” is the meaning strategy. Reading for meaning is the most powerful reading strategy that we use. When your child is attempting to read a sentence and comes to a word she doesn’t know, the most powerful thing you can ask is: What word would make sense here? You can also add: Look at the picture.
If your child says a word that doesn’t fit, you can say: You said________. That doesn’t make sense. You could add: What would make sense? Look at the picture. Or, think about the story.
With all of these prompts, you’re appealing to meaning. You’re teaching your child to think for herself. You’re not asking your child to “sound it out”. When a child tries to only say the sounds, meaning is lost.
So, how do you teach your child to use this strategy while reading a book? It’s really quite simple and flows naturally.
One of the most obvious ways to teach the meaning strategy is through the use of pictures.
It’s a good idea to use flashcards to help your child learn sight words which are the building blocks of reading (and writing). However –
Use flashcards in addition to teaching sight words by using books you’re already reading with your child. Why?
We want the words to be meaningful to your child. When you point out a sight word such as “I” in a story you’re reading, your child sees how the word is used. It’s part of a story and has more meaning than if it’s isolated on a card.
When your child is about 4 years old, you can start introducing sight words, but it really depends on the child. Some children might be ready at 3 years, some at 5.
Sight words are the building blocks of beginning reading. They are words such as it, is, am, and, the, you, I, he, she and here. It’s important to build up a word bank. These are words that your child will be able to recognize on sight, quickly, without actually having to read them. This will speed up the reading process and make things easier for your child. Sight words will be important for beginning writing, too. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand.
Use the books you’re reading to your child to teach sight words…
The Super Hammy – My First Reading Series – has been officially launched!
I met so many wonderful and interesting teachers, principals, authors, book store owners, and publishers at the Reading for the Love of It Conference 2017 at the Sheraton in Toronto today and yesterday. I appreciated the feedback I got about my books and came away with some good advice, too, for future endeavours.
I think I can safely say that the consensus is that Super Hammy is very cute! I did some drawing while I was there!
The official book launch for Super Hammy – My First Reading Series…is Thursday, February 23rd, 2017.
I’ll be attending the Reading for the Love of It Conference which runs February 23 and 24 at the Sheraton in Toronto. If you’ll be attending the conference, stop by booth 702 and I’ll sign some books for you! The official launch is Thursday, Feb. 23rd from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The books can be purchased individually or as a set.
“The Super Hammy reading series is a collection of 15 books about a mighty little hero Super Hammy who goes on big adventures with his friend Little Mouse. His simple and funny stories are told in small sentences – just right for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and grade one.
The stories are carefully written with controlled vocabulary and simple sentence structures. The characters and humorous story lines and illustrations will appeal to children and make learning to read fun. The books are designed to facilitate the teaching of reading for classroom teachers, Reading Recovery teachers, teachers of English Language Learners and students with special needs, and for parents. An audio CD is included in the box set.” DC Canada Education Publishing
You can buy all kinds of hi-tech alphabet toys and computer games to teach your child the alphabet…
But often it’s the simple, homemade things that work best. My kids learned their abc’s with the good, old alphabet fishing game. Nothing hi-tech about it, but it works!
Make some fish. Print the fish-template I’ve provided on card stock. Make 5 copies. You’ll need 52 fish. Or you can cut them out of foam. Print one letter on each fish: a capital ‘A’ on one fish, a small ‘a’ on another fish, and so on. Attach a paper clip to each fish.
Make a fishing rod using a small stick (a chopstick, a paint brush, a dowel). Attach a string with a magnet on the end. It will pick up the fish by the paper clip.
Make it easy. Put only 3 fish on the floor face down so you can’t see the letter. Your child will “catch” a fish, turn it over, and tell you the name of it. Always include letters your child already knows and add one new one at a time. If your child doesn’t know any letters yet, start with 3 fish, but when your child catches one and turns it over, you name the letter.
Variation: Once a few fish have been collected, have your child match the upper case letter with the lower case letter.
Variation: Lay out 5 different fish face up. Ask your child to catch a specific letter. Praise your child.