Teaching Our Children to Read, Part 1
September 20, 2010 by In the Quiet
Several months ago a friend asked us to advise him on preparing his toddler and infant for reading. My husband, who has many years of experience as a teacher and in the field of educational research and assessment, responded first. You can read what he had to say below. I’ll post my response next week. Happy reading! ~K
I know K will answer you in full pretty soon. I will offer a theoretical perspective that will give background to the practices K will share with you. Reading proficiency has been well-researched; that research has revealed some important characteristics of a well-developed reader.
1. Reading is a decoding skill. The “key” to reading is to “crack the code” so to speak. This means that the young reader is figuring out how to separate and combine sounds.
2. Since the organization of sound is imperative to good reading, a child who “listens” to reading typically turns into a good reader. Therefore, part of (our family) reading program is to read to our children before they can read. This excercise does two things: (1) it familiarizes the developing mind to the sounds of words and (2) it models to the developing child that reading is valued behaviour in the home. Our kids see us reading all the time. They have picked up this habit.
3. Vocabulary is increased when children make up and create words. For example, let’s say your child hears you read a simple Dr. Seuss book that repeats a rhyming sound: “the cat in the hat picked up a fat bat to hit a rat”. With the repetition of the “__at” sound the child will mimick and make up words…some that are real words others that are not. For example, you will hear, “nat, tat, gat, vat, sat, mat”. This should be encouraged because it is essential to the decoding process.
There is more I can share when your children get older but the essentials from birth to about 4 years are listening to reading and mimicking reading. You may have noticed your 2-year old pick up a book and pretend to read…this is a healthy sign of good reading development. 2 may be a little too young, but you will see it as she gets closer to 3. Our 3 year old can’t read but she pretends to by opening a book and telling a story.
K will probably mention a tv series called “Between the Lions”. http://www.pbs.org/parents/lions/program/
This educational show on PBS does a very good job of utilizing current research on developing young readers.
Also, here are a couple of titles about the research:
Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children
by Susan B. Nueman, Carol Copple, and Sue Bredekamp (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2000)
Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success
by M. Susan Burns, Peg Griffin and Catherine E. Snow (Eds.) (National Academy Press, 1999)
Hope this research angle provides a good supplement to K’s response.
You can read Part 2, my response, here. ~K