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A Quick Summary
How to teach your child to read

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So here is a summary of quick tips for parents and early childhood educators:

Simplify, simplify

Teach only one new concept per day.
Teach only 5- 10 minutes per day.
Start when the child is between 3- and 5 (though 6 -7 is not too late)

Don't memorize words

Recognize the child's logical mind. Tell stories to explain the shape of the letter and link the shape to the sound it makes.

Teach the sound not the name of the letter.

Teach lower case only.

Teach absolutely no exceptions till the basic skills are down pat.

Teach only one font per letter. Don't use two styles of g or a. Whichever one you choose, use only it.

Do not expect the child to read to you for a long time.
Only expect the child to be able to identify those letters which you have specifically studied.

Only have the child try to sound out words from that set of letters you have studied. NEVER expect the child to sound out any new word that contains exceptions not taught. You will only frustrate the child.

Praise, Praise, Praise

English is one of the most difficult languages in the world. It does contain a lot of oddities and exceptions. Some people think it is so hard they give up in despair and just teach kids to memorize word lists. However that technique only seems to work. After about grade 3 kids taught that way realize they have no clue how to 'attack' and read a word not on the list. We must show kids the basic logic of the language and get them well grounded in it before we expect them to handle the exceptions. And when we give them the 'anchor' of the basic skills, the exceptions amazingly do not upset them much at all.

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You need not study all levels of reading. Even introducing the child to the alphabet gives a head-start for school.

The amazing thing about reading is that it opens a door for all other subjects. Children who are able to read well not only can do well in school but can amuse themselves easily, can become experts at any field they wish to study and they also get self-confidence that permits them to take independent leaps and succeed.

I remember the first time my son took a book from the shelf and on his own, without being asked to, started to read it aloud to me. It was slow but he was doing it and I was kind of shocked, even though this was what I had planned for- but he was not shocked. For him this slow gradual and casual introduction to reading was like breathing, just natural.

One of my children, now in law school and 23, was noticing my letter poem the other day and she said' Oh yeah, I remember that. The thing is it made the world seem logical too"

Maybe when we teach kids to read we are empowering them to feel competent in a very complex society. That indeed is a mainsail for their life voyage.