Teaching for Success
There is no greater gift you can give your child than the ability to read. Assisting in them learning to read, more than anything else, will open doors to any field of study imaginable. In addition, they will become more creative and adventurous as they identify with characters in stories that they unfold.
Thankfully, teaching your child to read, whether they are homeschooled or attend a public or private school, is not as complicated as it sounds.
With a few good resources and a few minutes of dedicated time each day, your child can become an AVID reader, early on in their education.
Susan Wise Bauer, Author of “The Well Trained Mind“, gives incredible insight on teaching young children to read. In “The Grammar Stage” section of “The Well-Trained Mind” she discusses the importance of pre-school through fourth grade literacy. As well, she explains how EASY it is to teach your child to read, by using clear proper speech and talking constantly in complete sentences (Bauer, “Chapter Four Unlocking the Doors” pg. 30, The Well Trained Mind). This prepares their minds early to retain excellence in language.
The Author goes on to say, “By age four, the average child should know their alphabet and the sounds each letter makes.” (Bauer, “Chapter Four Unlocking the doors, pg. 35, The Well Trained Mind). Sounds simple enough, right? Well, in actuality there are many children who still struggle with letter sounds. While it is critical to know when to actually be concerned about a reading struggle (read more HERE), any reading challenge can be overcome with a little persistence. And that can all change in YOUR home, by committing a half hour a day to your child’s reading skills.
Know Your Child
Knowing your child is one of the simplest things in the world, and yet many parents seem to feel intimated when it comes to their education.
All it takes is a little observation and understanding. Taking time to witness how your child interacts with others, with you, and whether they play independently or by themselves more, says much about their personality. This can affect how they will thrive most in learning to read. Do they prefer ‘one-on-one’ time with you nestled in the couch together while you practice a book? Or do they need to move their body by doing jumping jacks and reciting sight words you hold up for them? The beautiful part of participating in your child’s education, is that YOU know them BEST! And therefore, you can deliver written and verbal language in a style that will help them succeed!
Children are ALL Unique Readers
Our oldest son, for example, could not wait to learn to read. He loved one on one time reading on the couch with his Mama! We spent years filling his head with beautifully written literature for children (see “SHOP THIS POST” below for suggestions), and he craved stories form a very early age. It was no surprise to us, therefore, when he began learning to read by sounding out words at only three and a half. By four years old he was reading through “Dick and Jane” with little effort. In no time, he was on to science books, and is still today reading well above grade level.
On the other hand, our second son surprised us. We recognized that obviously every child is unique, we just did not expect how differently they learn. Our Elijah needed thick glasses and seemed to struggle with sounding out words as they would flip and invert and change constantly while he was reading. He did not LOVE reading, but he DID love someone reading to him. He was not as motivated to apply himself to school work, but longed to go play teddy bears with a younger brother. We respected that. We recognized his touch of ‘Dyslexia’ and his love to be a child. Thus, we allowed him to listen rich literature, through us reading and AUDIO BOOKS. He also improved by moving his body WHILE he was reading. BOB books and patience is what gave him the confidence he needed. This freedom is one of the greatest reasons we chose homeschooling. It allowed him to be who he was, without compromise.
When we pay attention, we discover there are actually many “pockets’ in our day that can be dedicated to reading times. Make sure your child is ‘witnessing’ YOU reading. It is hard to insist that reading is “FUN” when parents are attached to their phone more than a book. I am guilty of too much screen time as much as the next parent, but it is CRITICAL that our children see us holding a physical book, journal, newspaper or magazine. The IMAGE of reading will be marked on their souls.
Read ALOUD Often
One of our favourite family activities is reading ALOUD. We get VERY engrossed in the characters, and it is SO touching to witness how each child identifies differently with the protagonist.
One winter that was particularly LONG in our Canadian climate, we whipped out a ‘good-old-fashioned’ book called, “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What surprised us most was how much we learned, amidst our enjoyment, of life on the prairie in treacherous conditions, and how they survived. Even our YOUNGEST children thrilled at the stories. Indeed, reading should be a “family affair”.
If you feel you ‘have no time’ to read aloud with your child, think again. Everyone must EAT, even tired and ‘too-busy’ parents. Meal time is a perfect opportunity to connect with your children and for a parent to read aloud to their child.
Perhaps you have a few moments while you are waiting for some water to boil! So put down your cell phone and read a book for five or ten minutes with your child. It will not take away from your day, I promise! Also, be sure to make ‘bedtime’ reading a priority. This will create a memory that will never fade from your child’s love of learning.
If there is ONE thing I will spend money on, it is a ready home library of incredible, beautifully written books, with a positive message for a growing generation! Here are a few of our family favourites below!
A Few Favorite Read Aloud Books for Elementary School Children
- The Blue Fairy Book
- The Little House on The Prairie Series (Even boys enjoy this series full of true life wild adventures!)
- Classics to Read Aloud with Your Child
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and ALL the Roald Dahl Books are absolutely HILARIOUS to read aloud together. I was crying laughing half the time.
- Nurse Matilda This is the audio book version and it is hysterical! Audio books are a wonderful option if you want your child to “hear” beautiful literature but do not have enough time to read aloud constantly. You can find an awesome audio book program with thousands of books and a free trial through amazon HERE.
- The Romona Books is a fascinating series about a very curious and often innocently mischievous little girl.
- “I am ” Books by Brad Meltzer. These books are one of the best investments we made to our library. They are simply written, full of true events, colourful illustrations and chockfull of knowledge for young kids and adults alike! There is “I am Marie Curie”, “I am Martin Luther King Jr.”, “ I am Ghandi” , to name a few, as a part of the series “Ordinary People Change the World”.
- A Child’s Garden of Verses, is loaded with beautiful poetry for improving memory based learning skills.
- The World Of Winnie the Pooh is filled with rich language and enchanting pictures that will intrigue your child!
- A Family Of Poetry
Books to Help You Teach Your Child Reading
Here is a basic list of some of my favourite books to assist in the basics of ‘teaching reading’ skills and writing. We have found all of these adaptable to our children over the years.
- Phonics Pathways This book lives up to its promises!
- Teach Your Child to Read In 100 Easy Lessons While this is not a book we have used in depth, I know that MANY homeschool families swear by its fantastic ability to lay a solid foundation in reading.
- Explode the Code series in my one of my main ‘go-to’ phonics programs. All of our kids enjoyed its VERY simple, and old-fashioned method of teaching with simple sounds, blends and pictures that motivate. Plus, it encourages the student to work independently.
- Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer, is an incredibly in-depth writing program that begins at the basics and carries your child through advanced writing style with “ease”. This particular book is a way to design your own curriculum. But if you prefer a “ready made” curriculum using the same method, Bauer wrote them by grade level and they are EXCELLENT! You can find her “ready-made” writing programs HERE. Begin in Level 1 for 1st grade. However even a higher grade level student can begin in level 1 easily if they are a struggling writer. The Author said that an eighth grade student began in the simplest level to be sure they mastered the basics!
BEST Early Readers
- Dick and Jane These old fashioned readers are a PERFECT way to build confident readers right from the beginning. Our Oldest son began with these at 3 1/2.
- BOB Books are an absolute FAVOURITE in our household. All of the children love engaging in these easy reads! They are available on kindle, but I highly recommend getting your children physical books to hold. They really improve reading, memorization and reduce the distraction of a tablet.
- The Magic Tree House Series is a fantastic way to boost your early readers’ confidence, once they advance to basic chapter books. These ones are filled with real history facts and loaded with adventure. They are also not super thick, so your early reader will get a spike in reading confidence when they begin to finish book after book!
- Dr. Suess Books are an ALL TIME favourite on our homestead, for our children learning to read! These ones can be downloaded instantly. They are colourful and written with engaging rhyme for children and adults of all ages!
My Favourite Books for Encouraging Parents in Teaching their Children
- The Well Trained Mind Susan Wise Bauer
- Homeschool Bravely This is one a faith based book helping you find the confidence in your ability to teach YOUR children.
- The Brave Learner Need a boost in teaching confidence? This book will do the trick! A great approach to make learning fun and remove some of the ‘daily grind’.
- Project Based Homeschooling is exactly what it sounds like- teaching your child through ‘project-based’ learning.
- Habits a wonderful look at applying solid habits for your children so they become confident learners.
We are All Learning
Parents, we are all learning, constantly. You CAN teach your child. in no way will it do them harm, whether you dive in and try homeschooling or just assist in their public school education. Be BRAVE. Be WILLING to invest the few moments it takes, consistently.
I am not a public school teacher. Teaching actually was the LAST career I would have chosen, believe it or not. But Homeschooling I would choose in a heartbeat. So do not be discouraged if you feel you have to “re-create” public school at home. Homeschooling or assisting your child’s education is NOT replicating public school. There is such freedom and joy to be had in applying yourself to YOUR child’s education, at home.
My mother always said, “Whatever method of teaching reading you choose, be CONFIDENT that your child will learn to read simply by having your time and hearing YOUR voice invest in them.” It is not more complicated than that.
Indeed, the time you spend investing in your child’s reading skills TODAY will reap a rich harvest before you know it! Get your resources and start sowing a love of reading in your child TODAY!