Teaching a Child to Read Part 2: Reading Practice

If you read my last post, I wrote about the two necessary habits that must happen every day with your child for them to become a successful reader.

  1. You should read to your child- A LOT.
  2. Your child should practice reading 15 minutes a day.

In my last post, I elaborated on the first point explaining what types of books you should be reading to kids and how to use them. In this post, I will focus on the second part of learning to read: reading practice.

Practicing Reading

A child who is beginning to read for the very first time should spend at least 15 minutes a day practicing reading. Fifteen minutes is enough time to challenge him, but not exhaust him. This time period should slowly increases as he improves in reading skill.

I have chosen a plain, inexpensive approach to teaching my kids to read. I haven’t spent a lot of money. I did not research the top-rated reading curriculum. It would be easy to find a flashier, more trendy reading curriculum. Instead I picked something simple, but I assure you it has worked very well for all of them!

Be aware:

You don’t have to find the BEST reading curriculum out there!

You can use a very simple, plain reading curriculum. It doesn’t matter so much what you choose. It matters that you start and consistently progress every day.

You can just pick something and start. In fact, that’s what I suggest.

Here are the steps I have used to teach our kids to read.

  1. Don’t start until they are ready!! If you are already reading to your child A LOT, they are going to naturally acquire a pleasure for a good story. When they are alone at play, you might see them with an open book pretending to read. They might start asking about letters or pointing to words and asking about them. They may try drawing letters. Any of these things are signs that your child is ready to read.
  2. Letter sounds. Start by teaching your child the names and sounds of each letter of the alphabet. You can use flash cards. We use some Leap Frog flash cards that were given to us. Flash cards are one of my favorite tools for teaching letter recognition because the kids like the competition of seeing how many they can recognize. You can use Alphabet books. Dr. Seuss’s ABC Book is a book we have used to teach letters. Also, starfall.com is a website that kids love for learning letters and their sounds. The important thing is that they are seeing capital and small letters together to be able to recognize the difference between both.
  3. Putting sounds together. I like to start with a white board and an exercise like this. Write an easy three letter word and change out the first letter by erasing it and writing a new one in to see if they can read it as you change the beginning letter. Point to each letter and say the sound, then slide from left to right as you slur the sounds together to make a word.

_AT

RAT

CAT

MAT

SAT

When they can read the word every time you replace the first letter with a new one, try making a list of about ten _AT words and having them read a list.

After _AT, you can experiment with other endings, especially introducing words with other vowel sounds in them: _EN, _IN, _OG, _UT

4. Begin your reading curriculum. For our Reading Curriculum, we have chosen Bob Books. Bob Books are a five box set with each box containing 8-10 beginning reader books. Our reading curriculum is two-fold in this order.

-Phonics practice (5 minutes). I created our own phonics practice book to go along with our Bob Books. I made it over time by adding a few words daily as we came to them. It was effortless. Every day that we started a new Bob book, I looked ahead at any new sight words or new sounds in that book and wrote them down in a notebook, adding to it as we moved along to each new book. I did this to introduce the new sounds and words before we read them and to review them after we read them. I wrote first, a running list of sight words and second, lists of sounds with 2-3 sample words below them.

-Reading 1-2 Bob books (10 minutes). Though introduction and review of phonics is important, more time should be spent actually reading the books. Reading real books is the fun part they have been waiting for!

Complete Set

Samples of the phonics practice book.

Consistent work in this fifteen minutes a day practice will produce results. Again, do not neglect the very important step from my last post- reading to them A LOT. If you have a child who is struggling with reading, my question would be: how much are they being read to throughout the day? Try scaling waaaay back on the reading practice and upping your read aloud time. If you are reading to them and practicing reading every day, your child will gain confidence and progress with time.

5. Move from reading beginning readers to picture books and eventually, chapter books. When we finish our 5 Bob Books boxes, our budding reader is ready for reading real books. Here are some books I have given to our kids to help them move from picture books to chapter books. You see, picture books are very concrete for a child. They have fewer words and more pictures. Chapter books, because they have more words and fewer pictures, challenge a child because they require him to use his imagination.

The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set: Includes 3 Favorite Frog and Toad  Stories! by Arnold Lobel, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
Little Bear (I Can Read Book Series: A Level 1 Book) by Else Holmelund  Minarik, Maurice Sendak |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
Amelia Bedelia I Can Read Box Set #1 : Peggy Parish : 9780062443564

Have more questions about teaching a child to read? Id’ love to hear them!

6 thoughts on “Teaching a Child to Read Part 2: Reading Practice

    1. We have bought a small collection of audio books on Amazon, but we take advantage of inter-library loan as well! I purchased all of the audio Little House series read by Cherry Jones. She is excellent! Also, we have most of the audio Rush Revere series because they are chock full of American history. We are not audible members yet, but I’m considering it because of the fantastic selection of audio books.
      As far as devices, we try to be strategic about screens with the kids during the school day, for the simple reason that they can become a HUGE distraction. I ask them to finish all their (paper and pencil) school work first and save their online school work for last. They use laptops. We use Veritas self-paced history courses (love them!), Rosetta Stone for foreign language, and seterra.com for geography. Otherwise, most of their school work is offline.

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      1. These posts are encouraging me SO much! Thank you for sharing. Do they use CD players to listen to audio books or Kindle or? Thank you!

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      2. I am so glad to hear! We use a CD player. Over a years I have accumulated a nice collection of some of our favorites. I’ve also used the library audio. On occasion I have used Kindle for books, especially books that are hard to find, out of print, or expensive, but for audio, so far, we have used mostly CD’s.

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