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How to REALLY Teach Your Preschooler to Read
As a parent, you want your child to have the necessary skills to succeed in life. Although there are many educational skills your child will eventually need to learn, reading is one of the most important skills you can teach. Although all children are different and some are not ready to learn to read until later, teaching your preschooler to read gives him or her an advantage over other children. If you think your preschooler is ready to read, I would highly suggest starting as early as possible. Just keep in mind that reading is a difficult process that can take time to master. Give your preschooler the opportunity to learn, but don’t push too hard for mastery.
Sit Down and Read with your Child
This might seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many parents forget to sit down and read to their children. Children of any age benefit from listening to an adult read aloud, but this is especially true for your preschooler just learning to read. Reading to your children models reading concepts, exposes your preschooler to new vocabulary, models reading fluency, and fosters an interest and love of books.
Teach the Basics
Before your preschooler can learn to read, you need to teach the basics. This includes any skill necessary for reading, such as print concepts, letter recognition, and letter sounds. Important print concepts your preschooler will need to know includes identifying the different parts of a book (cover, title, index, etc.), following text left to right and top to bottom, and using the pictures to help tell the story and identify difficult words. Your preschooler will also need to be able to identify both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as know the sounds each letter makes. Each of these is a separate skill that can take time to master, so if you’re ready to teach your preschooler how to read, start here.
Beginning Reading Skills – blending, sight words, word recognition
After your preschooler knows the basics, you can start teach beginning reading skills. The best beginning reading skills you can teach your preschooler includes blending phonemes, recognizing common sight words and recognizing everyday words. Since your preschooler already knows the sounds each letter makes, start putting some of those sounds together. The easiest way to do this is to use word families (words that end in the same sounds such as -at, -am, etc.). Practice putting new sounds at the beginning of the word families, even if those sounds make nonsense words.
In addition to blending phonemes, you’ll want to work on sight words and word recognition. Sight words are common words used in books that can’t be sounded out. This includes words such as the, that, as, are, was, etc. Repetition is key when it comes to sight words, so practice these until your preschooler can recognize the word immediately upon seeing it. You can also practice recognizing everyday words that might appear in text. The best way to teach your preschooler these words is to label things around the house, such as the wall, door, floor, and light. Leave these labels up so that your preschooler becomes more and more familiar with each word. Once your preschooler knows these words, it will be easier to read text without sounding out each word.
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Choose Appropriate Books
There are a few things you should know when choosing books for your preschooler to read. First, you will want to choose books that appropriate for a learning level. Your preschooler is just starting to learn to read, so choose books that contain sight words your child already knows and easy words you know your child is capable of sounding out. Picking out books that are too difficult can cause your preschooler to feel defeated. This can cause your child to feel resentment towards reading and learning.
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Read and Re-Read
I can’t stress enough how important it is to re-read text with your preschooler. If your preschooler is reading an age and level appropriate book, most likely there are only a few words or a single sentence on the page. Even with such short pages, it can take awhile for your preschooler to sound out each word. After your child has sounded out each word on the page, go back through and re-read the page with all of the words together. This will help your preschooler build fluency and recognize the words more quickly, allowing your preschooler to advance to more difficult and complicated books.