A Conversation for How to Teach your Child the Basics

Reading

Post 1

The Nitpicker

When my daughter was very young she nearly drove me mad asking me to read to her ALL DAY LONG. I came across the book Teach Your Baby to Read by Glen Doman and decided that a. his logic was impeccable and b. that teaching her to read for herself was the most valuable thing I could try to do. I followed his method and by the time she was two and a half years old she could recognise about 300 words and asked me the question "Why is there a circle in the middle of the word dog, Mummy?" I explained the phonic rules of reading and by the time she was 3 she could attempt any word you could present her with.
One day we were in London on the tube and she asked me how many more stops before we reached our destination. All the passengers in the compartment were blatantly sceptical as she read the names of the stops from where we were until she reaches Leicester Square - she did not know how to pronounce it and read it as all who are unfamiliar with the word - cue great astonishment from the passengers! She was obviously not yet at school but could read everything on the list!
Glen Doman seems to have lost the plot nowadays - hothousing and all that is just too pressured - but his first ideas about teaching BABIES to read were very effective. They worked on my son too who is very different from my daughter!!! He rejected ALL explanation when he knew about 500 words but when it had been suggested to him that there was a set of rules he worked them out for himself - three months later he kept telling me that the 'pone' was ringing (among other things) and took a lot of persuading that there were lots of exceptions to every rule that he had worked out!
My children both have phenomenal memories and vocabularies which I think is partly due to this early knowledge of reading. My daughter did brilliantly in GCSE (at an Inner London Comprehensive School), got a VERY high score in the International Baccalaureat and is in her final year of a degree in Theoretical Physics and she looks like she is going to get a 2:1. I am, of course, inordinately proud of her and cannot claim that it is all down to me but I think learning to read young did have a definite effect on both of my children.
Give your baby access to ALL the written information in the world and them let them follow their interests!


Reading

Post 2

Christy Woodman

Very young children who want to learn to read will learn it. Give them encouragement, answer all their questions, don't push them, and they will pleasantly surprise you. Keep "easy readers" like Dr. Seuss books and the Blue Bug books (Blue Bug went OVER the apple, UNDER the carrot, AROUND the pumpkin...) around the house at child-height. You shouldn't need flash cards or a program of intensive instruction; remember there's no need to hurry them along. (Keep a book of phonics handy for yourself so you'll know the rules and exceptions, but don't bother to teach your child a new rule every day unless she/he really enjoys that.) But having books available, reading to them often, and letting them see you read to yourself for fun (whether you read romance novels, magazines, John Grisham thrillers, or the morning newspaper) will stimulate their interest in reading and convince them that it is a worthwhile and enjoyable activity.

Take your child to the library often. If she/he only wants to play with the puzzles and the puppets there, don't worry about it. Pick out some books you might enjoy together. Ask if your child wants to check out any particular books, and add them to the pile. Ask the librarian if your library offers Story Time; most libraries do.

When your child is six or seven and either having trouble reading or showing no interest in reading, the situation is different. If the problem is severe enough, you might want to have your child tested for ADD, dyslexia, or some other learning disability. Then a tutor or reading specialist may be able to help you. Otherwise, some ideas include:

- Leaving notes around the house with your child's name on top (most children recognize their names sooner than any other word). "A surprise is under your bed." "I am out in the garden." "What do you want at the store?" "Sugar cookies are in the drawer by the sink." "If you can read this, you are very smart!"

- Playing Boggle, Scrabble, Perquackey, or any other game that involves putting letters together.

- Inventing game variations that use the letter blocks or letter tiles from those games: Add-a-letter, Change-a-letter, Hide-a-letter (guess the word when part of it is covered),

- Watching television shows that encourage reading, spelling, phonics, etc. Some American shows designed for the purpose inclu A truly wonderful educational program of this type, "The Electric Company," went off the air several years ago. : - (

- Taking turns with your child reading alternate sentences in a story.

- Making stickers with words on them, and letting your child place them in the appopriate spots on a picture (cow, pig, duck, eggs, pond for a barnyard scene, or perhaps sand, shell, pail, rock for a beach scene).

- Using disappearing Magic Markers to illustrate concepts like the "silent E." Tell your child that these markers will only be used during reading lessons.

- Having your child cut out familiar words from magazines and glue them in a construction-paper "book." You'd be surprised how much this builds confidence. ("I can read every word in this book!") Brand names that your child recognizes on sight (McDonald's, Po'ke'mon, Burger King), street signs (Stop, Yield, No U Turn), tiny words (on, off, it, is, in, at, the) and any other words your child chooses to add are equally valuable. Each time your child reads a new word in a magazine or newspaper, encourage him/her to add it to the Word Book. Every week or so, point out how thick the Word Book is becoming, and how many words your child can read now!


Reading

Post 3

Christy Woodman


The gap in the middle of my last posting should be: Some American shows (that encourage reading) include "Reading Rainbow," "Between the Lions," "Storybreak," "Big Comfy Couch," and "Sesame Street."


Reading

Post 4

broelan

I watched Electric Company when I was little, as well as Sesame Street. Electric Company has been gone for awhile, but I did find it recently on a satellite station (don't remember which one, tho). Sesame Street is still on PBS in America. There also used to be a show called The Letter People, don't know if it's still available anywhere. Teachers used to play this program in classrooms. Short programs, too, for short attention spans.

But more importantly than anything on television or video anywhere, give your child a love for books at an early age. I've been reading to my son since he was born. He refuses to go to bed without at least two books, more if he can get away with it. He has favorites that we read again and again. As he memorizes the words, he can see them on the pages, and begins to recognize some words out of context of his favorite stories.

Creating a relationship between your children and books early gives them the desire to learn to read on their own. My son can't wait to get to first grade so he can learn to read so he can read the Harry Potter books (mind you he is only 5). I'm sure I will read them to him long before he is able to read them on his own.


Reading

Post 5

The Nitpicker

I agree about reading to your children being the beginning of their desire to read. As you say it also important to help them to maintain their interest by reading them books that they cannot yet read themselves but where the level of the story is appropriate! My son used to LOVE listening to Kipling's Jungle Book stories - he could understand the story even if the vocabulary was VERY difficult without having to try to puzzle out those impossible words! I'd lay off Harry Potter for a few years though if I were you; 3/4 years or so because then they can be like the Swallows and Amazons stories of my youth, a complete series to be devoured as a whole without all this annoying hype and waiting for the next one in a year's time! don't let that put you off reading them though (if you haven't already that is) they are really good fun with every facet of modern life being shown albeit in a witchy context e.g. 'obsession with the latest model' of BROOMSTICK rather than clothes or being bored in lessons because you don't like the teacher even when the lesson is Potions! Very enjoyable and full of jokes for all.


The obvious answer

Post 6

Jimi X

We've all overlooked the most obvious thing. Parents need to spend time READING to their children.

Working in a public school system in America, I'm constantly amazed at the number of 5-year-olds who don't know how to even *open* books. And it's always the same reason - mom and dad don't take the time to read to them and there are no books in the house. We hold a special class for these kids in the summer before they start school to help them get caught up with their peers, but it's never enough. Looking at their faces, you realize that a third will drop out of school and turn to crime, heavy drugs, ect. and it's partly because they are so far behind in their reading.

BTW: These are the same kids who when they colour their drawings hum television commercial jingles under their breath. Get those kids out from in front of the TV!!!

So I guess what I'm saying is that teaching a child to read at an early age isn't as important as teaching a child that reading can be fun by reading *to* a child.


The obvious answer

Post 7

Pheroneous

Yes, of course, the start of it is to read to your children. Both mine were reading quite well before school years, but I never 'taught' them, that is I never consciously 'taught' them anything. It was not a target to get them reading, writing or anything else. It was as much a pleasure for me (as a Father) to be with and read to them as it was a pleasure for them to listen. They learnt by osmosis as much as anything else. More than anything I wanted them (and still want them) to be curious, and unafraid of trying. I hated them watching cartoons and other 'rubbish' on TV, but never stopped them, although I remember on several occasions trying to explain why I disliked Tom & Jerry (for example). I am sure that were I doing the same thing today, I would be equally lax about letting them on the net etc.

I am sure you are also right Jimi about being able to pick out aged 5 those who will have trouble later. But then isn't 'not reading to your child' symptomatic of a greater neglect. It is the neglect that will cause the problems, not the lack of reading skills per se.


The obvious answer

Post 8

Jimi X

Actually, a lot of kids in school 'act out' because they lag behind in basic skills like reading. They get bored and resentful and cause problems in school. Which of course, leads to suspensions and other punishments at the school level which heightens their feelings of neglect.

Florida started an interesting program in that the state gives childrens books to people receiving food from food banks in the hopes of at least getting the poorest kids interested in reading by having books in the home. Too early to tell if it's helped.

My eldest daughter sounds like your kids. We read to her every day - and she's picked up words and offers to help. When she was four, she insisted on reading all the one- and two-letter words. I wasn't teaching her, she was wanting to learn so she could do it herself.

One day she was in her bedroom reading 'James and the Giant Peach' but only doing the one- and two-letter words. That's when we knew she was going to be a reader. But it all started with having books available and taking the time to read to her.


The obvious answer

Post 9

Pheroneous

I wonder, though if we dont put too much emphasis on 'reading' as a skill. Maybe we have this cosy idea of a 'good' child curled up in a corner reading to themselves, and if we could achieve that we would therefore somehow be good parents. Not quite like real life in the 21st century!

Hey nitpicker, Swallows and Amazons! You and me both! I had certain books which I wanted my kids to read or read to them, and the first two volumes at least were on that list. In the end, I don't remember either being much interested (A curse on Mr Dahl and all his works!) so I bought them the films on video. Still no response! Some worked however, including the very non-pc Famous Five. The other day I caught my son (aged 22) going upstairs with 'when we were very young!' having stolen it from my study. He remembered still some of the poems by heart!


The obvious answer

Post 10

The Nitpicker

I never tried to interest my children in the books of my childhood other than having them available. My son loves Swallows and Amazons because he was taken sailing by his grandfather around the Suffolk/Norfolk coast where We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea is set. When he got home his grandmother pointed out that he had seen a lot of the buoys referred to and he then got into the whole series. I know what you mean about Roald Dahl but there are worse things e.g. Goosebumps!!! Harry Potter is a VAST improvement on most of the rubbish around at the moment. It seems to me that when I was a child so many of the books had male central characters whereas now most have females in response to feminist criticism. The balance has swung wildly towards female characters leaving boys with little to relate to.
I suppose it doesn't matter so much though because most boys are far more interested in non-fiction anyway. Thank you Dorling Kindersley for spotting this and plugging the gap in the market! the are great for kids of all ages - even pre-readers get a lot out of those books.


The obvious answer

Post 11

Barney's Bucksaws

My son was never interested in reading at an early age, but from a very early age, he was read to - most of Dr. Seuss, both volumes of Jungle Book, several other children's classics - even Macbeth, when we came across some reference in another book and he asked - all before he started school. We went to the library every other week, and I used to ask him who he wanted to be today, or where he wanted to go, and we'd go look for books accordingly. I always told him he could be anyone he wanted to be or go whereever he wanted to go in a book. He lead me into a lot of adventures! Because he loved stories, he learned quickly once he went to school. By the time he was 12 he was reading at a university level, and to this day (he's an adult now) he reads all the time. He has a TV and VCR at his apartment, but they're stored in a closet. He prefers a good book.


An assumption

Post 12

Pheroneous

I disagree, Nitpicker, about boys preferring non-fiction. It was the other way round in our family, and even now my travel reads (the only reading time available) are invariably fiction, ditto son.

Sounds like a good approach Barney, 'who do you want to be today?'.

Through this thread the underlying assumption is that reading (as in the reading - of books, not just literacy) is a 'good' thing, and that someone who prefers books, or includes books in their repertoire of information sources, is a somehow 'better' person. At least in the sense, presumably, of being thoughtful and well-informed. I wonder, however, if that is actually so any more, if it ever was, or how much relevance the book-reading habit will have in the future.

Having always read, I am aware that for me, at least, it is simply escapism. I find I am a sponge to soak up information (in written form) to little or no effect (except in trivia quizzes!) certainly in the world of business where I spend my non-h2g2 hours.


More assumptions

Post 13

Wand'rin star

Hear, hear.
I have been reading for at least half an hour every day since I was 3 (long time ago: very expensive in some non-English speaking countries)
One of my sons reads for pleasure and information. The other does not. The reader is prepared to read fiction, sometimes; the non-reader always preferred non-fiction.(I think they were both treated equally, although of course the younger always had the older to read to him as well as his mum)The non-reader got a good 'A' level in English, mostly by watching videos.

Reading doesn't necessarily mean curled up with a book any more, though it's more difficult to take the computer to bed with you. I think being computer literate is very important. I also think that TV watching is not something that little children should do alone. Some of my happiest memories are of snuggling up on the sofa with a child or two watching and talking about the programmes they liked (and I probably didn't) This still does on in our house on the rare occasions we're in the same country


More assumptions

Post 14

Jimi X

Considering that this is a text-based site. I'd say that reading is an important skill - period. It doesn't need to be a book anymore.

But developing the skill of reading is critical for success later on in life.


More assumptions

Post 15

Pheroneous

Everyone would agree wholeheartedly with that, Jimi, but I was particularly meaning 'Book Reading'. I just think we are unnecessarily precious about it sometimes. The 'bibliophiles' among us (That includes me) sometimes forget that there are zillions out there who get along perfectly well without reading books at all, and if our children do not take to it, its by no means the end of the world. It is even, perhaps, better for them to be out playing sports or otherwise interacting with the Universe and everything. Even the esteemed Guide, of which we are presently a consequence, was a radio creation. (Wasn't it?)


More assumptions

Post 16

Barney's Bucksaws

Reading may not be synonomous with success, but its sure an asset. I've spent literally a year at a time without ever touching my favorite reading material - fiction, historic novels - because I'm taking yet another course related to my profession. I'm the sort that has to stay focused throughout a course, so its the text book or reference and that's it. My son's a salesman - well, that's the truest word for it. He's 3 months into a new job as account executive in an advertising firm. In their ads they want university grads, and he simply has high school, so he's gone out and bought business texts to educate himself to keep up with his job. Incidently - he's succeeding.
His favorite pleasure reading's history.


More assumptions

Post 17

Titania (gone for lunch)

I haven't got any children of my own, but I taught my brother to read when he was 3 years old (and I was 9). That wasn't really my intention, we were just having fun...

Both of us have always loved TV-programmes about animal wildlife in different countries, and afterwards we always looked the country up on Daddy's big globe (is that the word I want?). My brother would start pointing and asking 'What's that country? And that?'

Soon he had memorized the word 'pictures' (not knowing the letters, he saw them as pictures, not text). After that, he started recognizing same sound in different words, and noticed which symbols were the same in both words - and so on...

I saw this on TV as an adult. At a kindergarten, they used big cards with easy words as 'chair', 'table', 'floor' and so on. The children got different cards and competed in placing the card on the relevant object as fast as possible, making a game out of it. Same system - learning to recognize the 'picture' of a word, not the letters. And they, too, learnt to connect certain 'symbols' with certain sounds, and worked out the letters themselves... And they seemed to have a lot of fun while learning, running around, shouting 'is this right?' and so on...smiley - smiley


More assumptions

Post 18

The Nitpicker

It seems to me that we are all agreed that the most important factor in learning to read is SUPPORT from parents and siblings. Children from homes where nobody reads at all (and there are millions of them) find it very dificult to catch up with children who have always seen the members of their family reading something be it the newspaper, a book or the articles on h2g2. The problem is how to help those children who have no readers in their family to model themselves on.


More assumptions

Post 19

Titania (gone for lunch)

How about kindergarten (read my previous posting)?


More assumptions

Post 20

broelan

Of course reading is important in any form, books, news, posts, etc. While I don't specifically remember being read to when I was a child, I do remember occassionally reading to my younger sister, and seeing my parents reading their own books. We were raised not with an emphasis on reading per se, but brought up to respect education in its many varying forms.

I love to read many things, including science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, non fiction, mystery, thriller, even romance. Every book I own (hundreds) have been read at least twice, some as many as six or seven times. I find education in all of them. I turned my ex-husband into a reader (proof that it is never too late!).

I know in today's world it isn't always easy to find the time to read to kids. As a matter of fact I started reading the Narnia Chronicles to my son the other night, and fell asleep last night before I could read him the next chapter. Most if not all libraries have regular story hours, as well as other reading activities for pre-school age and toddler children.

It's a fact that not all people are readers. Not all children will grow up to be readers, either. But everyone should be given the opportunity to find these things out for themselves. Kids rarely enjoy anything they are forced to do. Learning to enjoy reading should be done on their terms.


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