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learning to read

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 7:38 2019
by melsbells
Does anyone have recommendations for teaching a kid how to read?

It's really important to me that my kid is literate in English, but other than instilling the desire to read and write, I'm at a loss as to how to impart those skills. As I type, kid is working on phonemes in Finnish with my spouse using a well conceived and well made app coming out of the University of Jyväskylä called ekapeli. I started using a version for foreigners last year to help me hear the difference between vowels. I thought it would be really great if I could find something similar in English, but so far no luck. There are unsurprisingly a lot more options for learning to read in English compared to Finnish, but I haven't come across any that seem to have actual language development in mind. I had the idea that PBS would be a good resource, but not available without a U.S. proxy.

Spouse thinks I shouldn't worry about it until kid has Finnish down, which is reasonable in the sense that Finnish has almost a one to one correlation of sounds to letters. Then kid could use those Finnish reading skills with English, different phonemes, but same idea of basic phonetics. I think spouse is reasoning that he didn't learn to even start learning to speak English until he was 10, and his literacy is no worse than mine (actually his spelling and grammar are better). But kid is interested and ready now. Learning in parallel isn't going to be a hindrance to either language.

My inclination, as with most things I want to learn, is still "get thee to a library", but that hasn't worked out for me since leaving the U.S., except for books to help me learn Finnish. Now, there are more English books in libraries than I have any right to expect, but not specialized in any sense. We have English books at home too, and while some are fine for early reading (slightly more advanced than absolute beginner) those books aren't meant to teach. Our simplest books are The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree, and It's Not Easy Being A Bunny, followed by a couple Elephant and Piggie books. They have lots of benefits like repetitive language and pictorial clues, but I think something more basic, yet still engaging, would be great.

On our own we talk about word families ('at' family: bat, cat, fat, hat). Kid recognizes some small words in books that we're reading ('a', 'an', 'I', 'you') seemingly through osmosis. I've heard tell of kids just learning to read via exposure, but let's assume I'm not raising a super genius.

So how did/are you teach(ing) your kid to read? What resources do/did you use? Do most people just let the school system take care of that? What are your favorite books and activities for absolute beginning to early readers?

Re: learning to read

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 19:21 2019
by spacefem
hey! this is a good topic because my kindergartener is learning to read and it's darn cute. she is just starting to sound out words.

our favorite very books are:
the BOB books, little paper ones in ten packs like rhyming words, she really loves them but now they're almost too easy
the big dog and little dog series by dav pilkey
and now we're reading dr seuss

Re: learning to read

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 8:26 2019
by Sonic#
From what I understand, many kids start reading before school. Reading to kids helps with that, especially when indicating with a finger what text I'm reading at a given time. (I've just begun to see this with my nephew, who I sit and read with when I visit.)

That said, it's not unusual to take a little while to acquire literacy. One of my sisters started reading when she was three. I didn't start reading until I went to kindergarten. I recall using a phonics curriculum where we were read stories that emphasized the connection between letters and making sounds. (P -> puh, puh, the sound of a man spitting out watermelon seeds.) There are a plethora of phonics books and kids' books designed around phonics out there now, so I don't know what would work best.

Re: learning to read

Posted: Sat Feb 2, 5:42 2019
by melsbells
Spacefem, thanks for the book suggestions.
Sonic, I like the way you described the sound a letter makes.

I asked a few early elementary school teachers I know this same question and wanted to share a bit of what they had to say.
They recommended starting with consonant-vowel-consonant words (CVC) with short vowel sounds, and focus on rhyming families (i.e. bat, cat, fat) and even including first consonant changes that don't make real words, like 'gat'. Then later introduce CVC with last letter changes (i.e. bad, bar, bat). They said we could try sight words at the same time and told me to do a search for the Fry sight word list.
After those CVC words aren't a problem, it was suggested to start adding an 'e' at the end of CVC words to change the vowel sound, an the meaning of the words, so introducing long vowels (i.e. cap->cape). Then after all that, we can start adding two consonants together and two vowels together. From there maybe come up with homonyms together, which can be a great way to introduce silent letters (i.e. new, knew).

As far as resources go, other than the Fry sight words, was mentioned.

So it sounds like we've started in a reasonable place and now we have some direction of where to go next. Please, don't consider this a closed case. I'm still interested in knowing what has worked or is working for others.