“The only thing I feel really sure of having accomplished today is that I taught Cliffie Wright that A is A. He never knew it before. Isn’t it something to have started a soul along a path that may end in Shakespeare and Paradise Lost?” – Anne of Anne of Avonlea
Isn’t it something? How exciting that we’re able to teach our children to read! I must admit that when I first approached teaching reading to my oldest, I did so with a certain amount of trepidation. I did not know if I could do it. I wondered if he’d really learn to read. But, as you might guess, he did! We went little by little and it clicked for him. It felt like magic to me. As I’m now teaching my second, it often still feels magical.
Are you teaching someone to read right now? As Leigh shares in The Core to teach reading you need to do two main things:
1. Teach phonics! Phonics is essentially the system of sounds assigned to symbols/letters. Once a student understands the system, they can decode words to read them. The Core suggests that you can teach reading without a curriculum. Knowing the basics (phonics, spelling, and punctuation rules) yourself will allow you to teach them to your child using any reading material.
For me, while teaching my oldest to read, I was also teaching myself to teach. Thankfully, friends recommended Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It’s phonics strong and simple to use. It literally gives you a script to say to your child with each short lesson. I still laugh to myself as I remember my second oldest falling into a fit of laughter during our first lesson as he said, “Who is saying that? That’s not you.” He could tell the words and phrasing were not my own. Nowadays, I could be freed up from the script, but I was so grateful for it in the beginning.
Remember, even if your child appears to be a natural reader, teaching these basics is essential.
Leigh shares that before leaving the grammar stage each child should:
– memorize the approximately 70 phonograms and 30 spelling rules
– master the 1,000 most commonly used words in over 90 percent of English
– learn to use a dictionary
Giving your child a strong language arts foundation will carry them far; not just in reading, but also in spelling, composition, and foreign languages.
2. Read with your child! Read to them and listen to them read to you. “If we want our children to love reading, they need to spend time with people who also love reading.” (p.90) I do love reading! I love stories. I love reading with my children. Sometimes, though, this can be hard. With young ones, there can be lots of interruptions while reading aloud. When it’s their turn to read, there are times of struggle with focus and decoding. Impatience can reign. Leigh encourages us parent teachers this way: “Teaching core reading skills is best done alongside rather than in front of a student. This is a great time to bond with your children. Especially when they’re young, pull them onto your lap or put an arm around them as you encourage them to read difficult books out loud. Touch helps to break down fear and self-doubt and any other emotional barriers. Often our struggles stem from a lack of emotional confidence. It will help you encourage your child as it’s hard to get frustrated with someone you are cuddling with.” (p.91)
So, pull your little one close, open a good book, and get started. But, before you leave to do that, I’d love to hear about the “magic” you’ve witnessed while teaching your child to read. Can’t we all use the encouragement? Share below in the comments!
Interested in the rest of the At Home with the Classical Method series? You can find it here.