I started out this year with big plans. I bought a fancy curriculum with a shocking price tag that talked about teaching reading, promoting literacy, etc. I thought it would be the perfect thing for my 5 year old who was otherwise doing 1st grade work, but didn’t seem to grasp reading with traditional workbooks. It showed tracing pages, readers and cute little crafts, every moms dream, right?
Apparently, not mine at least. The first week, I struggled through the book not sure what it was wanting. Some instructions were confusing even to me, some things seemed way below her ability, like tracing shapes or making patterns. I just didn’t get it. She didn’t get it. It kind of got pushed to the side and was only getting pulled out at the end of the week when I felt like we still needed to check off that subject.
It just wasn’t working for us.
I had kind of an epiphany moment in thinking back to her older sister who had also homeschooled from day one, but had started reading at age 4. That’s when it clicked for me. If I could teach her sister to read without a set curriculum, I could teach her as well. I don’t even know why I had wasted my money on the curriculum in the first place.
Here’s the big secret: I taught her older sister how to read with being consistent, working with her on what she knew, adding a little bit more until it was mastered, and then building confidence. All of this translated into a lot of reading with mom though.
Let me explain my method a little better. I started her out with homemade flashcards of 3-5 sight words for kindergarteners. We would go through these every chance we got, waiting during errands, appointments, spare time at home, you name it. If she could make it through the stack of cards perfectly, I’d add about 2-3 more, depending on her familiarity with the words and how big the stack was already.
This is the main thing I talked about above except for what I feel is the key: building confidence. With my 5-year-old, her siblings would occasionally point out to her that she couldn’t read yet, and I always made them rephrase it with a yet. She isn’t able to yet, but she will. I firmly believe in 1) building confidence and 2) not allowing others to bash it.
How I build confidence for children while they are learning to read is starting with words that go together, no matter how awkwardly, in a sentence. I want to be able to end a lesson with, “good job, look at you, you’re reading!” Even if all a child can read is “I go,” they’re beginning to read and no matter how small, it is reading.
I worked with my daughter during her most recent lesson and we were able to put together some pretty big sentences like, “I can see the cat go up and down.” They’re little words, but they’re reading, and I watched my daughter on some of the words trying to sound them out or remember from the last time we had done them and it reminded me of a quote (pictured below) as to how fortunate homeschool moms are to be able to have these moments with their children, to teach their children these things instead of expecting someone else to. It allows you to know your child so much better.
Once my daughter gets better at more sentences and a few more words, I will end up putting together a book for her using the words she has been working on, only I like to throw in new words, but using pictures, like maybe your child knows, “I see dad go in the” you could draw a house to introduce the word house, or colors can be introduced if they know car, draw a yellow car for example. Then they get to practice with their book. They can even practice with friends and family who come over.
This builds their confidence with reading.
What have you done to teach your child to read?