Ugh!! Trying to teach your child to read can be very frustrating. The English language is phonetic, right? Well, sometimes. But even words that at first seem phonetic, are only phonetic when you know this spelling rule or that rule. There are so many spelling rules and letters make multiple sounds. So where do you start? If your child already knows the letters and one sound for each letter, then teaching a child to sound out words should be easy right? They should be able to read a simple children’s book right? Well, right, if the child knows all the spelling rules, but a child will get easily frustrated at having to learn a new pronunciation rule every few words.
For example, in my last sentence:
- right – gh is silent
- the – th makes a diffent sound than t and h separately
- child – ch makes a different sound than c and h separately
- knows – k is silent, the ow is the long o sound, not ‘o’ as in on, not ‘ow’ as in how
- all – the a does not make the ‘a’ sound as in apple
And there are many more such examples of spelling/pronunciation rules and exceptions in the remainder of the sentence. All of this can be overwhelming to a child who is first starting to read. This is why I recommend using a reading curriculum that breaks down rules for reading (or decoding) in manageable chunks, in a way that gets kids reading fast and with confidence.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a great book for teaching your child decoding skills. A child who does not know any letters can begin this program. The book makes reading manageable by:
- introducing one sound at a time, so that children learn a sound well before moving on
- teaching the skill of putting sounds together
- it starts by introducing only lowercase letters and adds capital letters later
- it notes rhyming words and spellings
- letters are written slightly differently when they have different sounds, so that decoding skills are learned and there is still exposure to the real spelling of words
- for example, th are written closer together for one sound, long vowels have lines over them, and silent letters are written in a smaller font
- sight words that are not phonetic are introduced one at a time (like “was” or “to”)
- new sounds for letter combinations are introduced slowly so that they are mastered, such as “ow” as in “how”
- there are checks throughout for reading comprehension,
- reading concepts are taught throughout – spacing between words, reading left to right and top to bottom, periods at the end of the sentence, quotation marks for speech, titles for a story, capitalization rules, etc.
Some great things about this curriculum, that make it so easy to use:
- Directions are written so that parents know exactly what to say for each lesson and the only preparation time needed for the parents is to read the introduction
- Children gain confidence early on and can begin reading words within just a few lessons
- Each lesson can be done in under thirty minutes, or even less time if lessons are broken in half
A few caveats about this curriculum
- The markings and fonts are different than what you will find in storybooks, so it is suggested that you work all the way through the curriculum so that the transition from the special decoding markings to regular font is made smoothly. I have found it helpful to supplement this curriculum with flashcards that do not have the special markings – like “see” without the long vowel marks.
- The names of the letters are not taught until very late in the curriculum, only the sounds. This is not necessarily a problem, but something to be aware of.
- Some of the lessons progress rather quickly, so we sometimes repeat lessons until we are ready to move on.
For more information about this book, check out www.startreading.com