How Do I Teach My Child To Read?
Mar 4, 2014 Reading 2800 Views
To help you get started, we have put together a list of some of the more popular early reading methods out there to give you a grasp of their salient principles and differences. You may discover that a particular one matches your child's learning style and preferences perfectly, or even that a combination, rather than any single one, of these techniques are far more effective in teaching the written word to your baby.
Glenn Doman's Flashcard Method
Glenn Doman is a physical therapist who developed an approach to treating brain-damaged children in the 1950s in the United States. As his research progressed, he found out that the same type of accelerated learning method he used with brain-injured children can be applied on normal children. In fact, he believes that all babies have a genius potential that if properly developed, can well exceed that of Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein. To draw out this genius potential, children should be appropriately stimulated from infancy by their parents, who are invariably the first and best teachers for the task.
Using flashcards, Glenn Doman devised a step-up method of reading instruction that follows a particular consistent schedule. The size and orderliness of the reading materials are especially important. The younger your child is, the larger the words ought to be on the flashcards, in order to cater to his unmatured eye-brain pathway. Start by flashing single words that are meaningful to your baby, such as those pertaining to the self, family and home environment. After a certain number of times, move on to couplets (made up of 2 single words that your kid has learnt). Then progress to phrases, and finally to sentences. At this juncture, parents should be adding storybooks to the mix, always making sure that words are appropriately separated from pictures to keep your child's primary focus on the text.
The best time to start the reading programme is when your little one is 6 to 24 months. Parents should remember, as Doman always emphasises, to teach only when your child is in a happy and open mood, and to do so with a loving and enthusiastic attitude. Flashcards should be shown 3 times a day, and gradually exchanged after 5 days for new ones, to avoid children from getting bored. In keeping with the child-centric focus of his programme, Glenn Doman recommends that the time involved for each reading session should be short, around 5 minutes or so. The key is to NEVER, NEVER pressurise your child.
Robert Titzer, an American professor, is a highly-recognised infant researcher. His video of his 9-month-old daughter Aleka displaying the ability to understand all the words on the flashcards shown to her continues to amaze people around the world.
What Robert Titzer advocates is the multisensory method of teaching reading, which is based on the principle that by stimulating as many of a child's senses as possible as he is being taught to read, the easier it is for the child to remember the words. For example, when teaching your child the written word "cheese," the best way is to let him see, touch, smell and taste the object as he sees and hears the word "cheese."
The advantage of this approach is that the variety of stimuli makes it more interesting for a little kid. It also helps to engage different types of children from the visual, auditory, to the kinaesthetic (movement) learners. As this method places much more emphasis on understanding the meaning behind words, it allows us to assess --- for example, through a child's physical gesticulations --- whether he is able to read a word, even before he can talk
However, this method may mean that parents have to spend more time and effort preparing the relevant teaching materials, including pictures, sound effects, even the actual objects. A consequence of this is that fewer words are taught at any one point in time. A far more efficient way nowadays is probably to avail yourself to the expanding early learning market with its variety of educational websites and VCD/DVDs that engage in some form of multisensory learning.
English writing is based on the alphabetic principle, whereby letters are used to represent speech sounds. Phonics is an approach to teaching reading that acquaints students with these letter-sound relationships. Children learn how to "decode" words, that is, sound out individual letters, as well as groups of letters, in order to blend the sounds together to correctly pronounce written words.
Phonics is a useful supplement for beginning readers who have learnt to sight-read and/or mastered the letters of the alphabet. It advances them to the next level in their language literacy, by providing them the tools for spelling and reading (particularly unfamiliar words). For that matter, it is more suited for slightly older children, rather than babies and toddlers less than 2 years of age.
There are several approaches to teaching phonics, which vary according to how letter-sound combinations are represented to children, and how unknown words are to be decoded. But by and large, it boils down to essentially two ways of teaching phonics:
1) Analytic Phonics: It is a whole-to-part approach in which children are first taught a number of sight words, and then led to make relevant phonic generalisations about common parts of these words. Sets of similarly-spelt words would be learnt together in rhyming groups called word families. For example, the word family of "rat," "cat," "bat" and "mat" teaches students about the "at" ending sound. When a child encounters a new word, he should identify it by its overall shape, beginning and ending letters, and any context clues from the rest of the sentence or any accompanying picture. If he is unable to sight-read or guess at it accurately, then he should break it down (i.e. analyse) to smaller parts, which he can relate to already learnt letter-sound relationships. In analytic phonics, the blending or putting together of sounds is not usually taught.
2) Synthetic Phonics: Children are taught to relate every letter or letter combination, in the order in which it appears in a word, with its corresponding sound and then put them together. In this approach, students will learn in a systematic manner all the 44 phonic sounds which make up the English language, with an eye to blending the sounds for reading, or segmenting them for spelling. In synthetic phonics, children need not be able to recognise whole words as shapes (i.e. they need not know how to sight-read), nor have prior knowledge of the letters of the alphabet. Letters and their relevant sounds are taught at the same time, and once a child has mastered all the 44 phonic sounds, he would be able to blend or synthesise the pronunciation of any word he encounters.
Something For Every Child
If your child does not seem engaged in a particular method, then try out a combination of different techniques, or experiment with various early reading products. With the fast-expanding market of early childhood educational devices --- and with some persistence --- you should be able to find something that resonates with your little one.