Many people assume that homeschooling just comes natural to parents and that it is a fairy tale story of obedient children and smiling parents…..ummmm not in my family. While my children mostly do their schoolwork with good attitudes, there are days of whining over how long an assignment is or how it is not fair that we have school on a day that the public school system is out.
Besides these everyday complaints, I also face many of the usual doubts that most homeschooling moms face. (Yes, we all have the same doubts, even if we are hesitant to mention them) One of the biggest concerns I had before I started to homeschool, was how I was going to teach my child to read. While I do have a college degree, it definitely is not in the field of elementary education. So like the big scaredy cat I am, I decided to wait to start homeschooling until after my daughter had learned to read in public school. My rationale was that homeschooling would be a breeze if my child could already have the ability to read and do simple mathematics. (I know the other homeschooling moms reading this are chuckling at my naivety) Despite all my fears and concerns, we had a remarkably smooth first year of homeschooling. I attribute our success to my daughter being such a good sport and to her love of reading. So overall, I felt that I could potentially pull this whole crazy idea off and do a good job of preparing my child for future academic success.
Then I had my son……
Now my scheme of teaching a child that already knows how to read was in jeopardy. After homeschooling my daughter for five years, I had serious reservations about putting my son into public school just to learn how to read. Once again those pesky fears and doubts began to fill my head. Could I really teach him how to read? What if he is resistant to learning? What if I am a terrible teacher? How on earth can I be responsible for tackling this important task?
So I began to research all the different methods of teaching reading and discovered this wonderful new site called Pinterest, which was filled with wonderful ideas from educators from all over the world. All of a sudden, my fears of teaching my child to read started to slowly disappear. I developed a game plan of tackling this huge challenge and I am going to share it with you!
1. Learn the alphabet
The very first thing you should do to set the stage for reading is to learn the alphabet. Sing the alphabet song everyday in the car, at breakfast, and in the bathtub. After the child knows the song really well, have them practice singing the song while you point out each letter. This helps to cement the ABCs into the memory by visual and auditory means. Another fun way to reinforce the ABCs is to read books based on the ABCs. Some of our favorite ABC books are: Dr. Seuss’s ABC, The ABC Mystery by Doug Cushman, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Miss Spider’s ABC, Click Clack Quackity-Quack, Bad Kitty and so many more available at most libraries.
2. Learn the sounds of each letter
After your child knows all the letters backwards and forwards, then you can move on to what sound each letter makes. Start with sounding out three letters at a time and add on as each set is mastered. For example, on the first day teach your student that “A says aaah, B says buh, C says cuh” and then on the next day repeat and add “D says duh, E says ehhh, F says ffff” and so on. Once the child has mastered all of the alphabet sounds you can move on to the next level.
3. Practice word families
Word families are the first real step to reading in my opinion. After practicing word families for a few weeks, something clicked in my son’s brain and he began to see that letters make words. The simplest way to teach word families is to write them out in columns so the child can see that they all end in the same sound. For example,
-at -ig -og
Cat Pig Log
Bat Big Cog
Sat Fig Fog
Hat Dig Dog
The options are limitless really. Basically any words that end in the same letters are considered word families. I think the reason that children like word families so much is that it feels like they are actually reading. We all want to be good at something and this just makes them feel special, so make a big deal out of any success your child has in reading! I have always made a big fuss out of any attempt that my son has made in reading and he just loves trying to impress me with his skills everyday. You can search online for different word family lists that other teachers have created for their classes and add them to the ones you have thought up. There are also some really cute Pinterest ideas concerning word families.
4. Find a learning to read book
There are so many great options for learning to read books out there. We chose The Reading Lesson: Teach your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons. I love this book because it slowly walks you through all the steps of learning how to read in easy to follow lessons. We decided to just work through 1-2 pages at a time because my son got really restless after the second page when he first started out. After he got better at reading, we started doing 4 pages a day. He really loves the stories and the illustrations throughout the book. I love it especially because they teach and review new words before each story, so the child has a better chance of reading the story by themselves. Being able to read a whole story makes my son so proud of himself!
5. Start easy reading books
While we are making our way through The Reading Lesson, I decided to introduce my son to early reading books that I felt he could read. When I felt my son could handle simple sentences, I had him to attempt reading our favorite Dr. Seuss books. His very first book he read was Put me into the Zoo by Dr. Seuss. Let me tell you……he nailed it! His next book was Green Eggs and Ham and like the first book, he didn’t really need any help at all, much to my surprise. I think what makes Dr. Seuss perfect for new readers, is that the books are all rhyming and use lots of word families. Dr. Seuss books also repeat a good deal of words so the child catches onto new words really quickly. He just started I’ll teach my dog 100 words and what do you know…he is speeding through that one too!
After finishing my list, I realized that I left off probably the most important step on the road to teaching your child to read, which is…….read to your child everyday. If your child is a baby, read board books. If your child is a toddler, start reading easy rhyming books. If your child is in preschool, start picture books. I really think most of my son’s success in reading is due to a love of books. Our bedtime ritual always involves reading two books each night. If I try to skip out or read just one, I have a mutiny on my hands! Once the reading bug has bitten your child, I truly believe the road to becoming a great reader will be much smoother for the whole family, especially for the worried homeschooling mom….