This is a two-part series. In this post, I’ll share with you how to teach beginning reading skills to your child assuming they already know all the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. To learn how to teach these pre-reading skills, read this post.
Up till now, you should have been teaching your child the “pre-reading” skills I outlined in my previous post. Once you are confident your child knows the entire alphabet and the corresponding sounds, it’s time for beginning reading skills lessons.
Get your trusty abc index cards out and pull out the vowels. Explain that a, e, i, o, and u are special letters we call vowels. Have your child repeat the vowels. I really only spent a week on this, making sure my child could name the vowels. I didn’t really explain why we call them vowels or anything. We played a game where I’d lay out all the alphabet cards and have him pull out just the vowels. We did this everyday for a week and he picked it up pretty easily.
Practice CVC words
After your child is familiar with the vowels, it’s time for simple CVC words. This stands for consonant – vowel – consonant words. Pick a vowel (any will do but most people start with a) and ask your child what sound the letter makes. Then pick two consonant letters that will make a word and ask your child what those sounds are.
Next you are going to explain that when you read a word, you blend the sounds together. Demonstrate this by slowly reading the word he already read all the sounds to.
For example, you chose the vowel A and the two consonants C and T. Put them together to spell the word CAT and then slowly say the sound for each letter, blending the sounds as you go. “Ccccaaaaatttt.” Then have your child try.
They should be confident in reading the sounds of each letter as you already spent so much time doing this kind of exercise. All you’re doing now is having them blend the sounds together. If it just doesn’t seem to click. Continue practicing those pre-reading skills and try again at a later time.
Take as much time as you need on a particular vowel before you move on to the next vowel. I do suggest keeping e and i separate as the sounds are similar and can get confusing for your child as it did mine. Work your way through all the vowels and build fluency by regularly practicing the CVC words.
Introduce sight words
At some point you will want to introduce sight words. You can either do this in conjunction with the CVC word lessons/practice or, after you have made your way through all the vowels. It’s up to you. By introducing sight words during CVC lessons, your child can start reading simple books sooner rather than later.
I would personally introduce them after completing the CVC lessons and my child has built up some fluency with sounding out these words. (This is not how I did in fact do it – I started sight words way later and regret it now). Yet, all’s well that ends well 😉 Going forward, this is what I will do for my daughter.
To know what sight words to introduce, you can look on Pinterest or even do a search online. I actually used a pack of sight word cards that came with my BOB books set on sight words AND I got this set used from the thrift store. So keep your eyes out for steals like this at your local thrift shop.
Teach these the same way you taught your child to recognize the letters of the alphabet. Hold up a card with the word, say the word and have them repeat it. Ultimately you want to build them up to reading the word themselves. Do this a little bit everyday until they have mastered sight words.
Start daily book practice
Now that your child has mastered CVC words and knows some, if not all the most commonly used sight words, it’s time for them to start formal reading instruction! Yay!
There are many reading curriculum’s out there and it can feel overwhelming deciding which one is the best fit for your child. I recommend just doing a bit of research, pick your curriculum, and try it out. If you end up not happy, then try, try again.
Learning to read is an important skill to have. You want to find a program that fits your child’s unique learning style. Everyone is different and it may take time to find that perfect program. I’d give a new program about 6 to 8 weeks but if after the first 2 you are not happy, then please don’t wait to try something else.
Reading instruction should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your child. If you are not enjoying it, chances are your child isn’t. Just try a new one and keep trying until you find the perfect fit.
Before you know it, your child will be reading like a pro! I started my son with ten minutes a day of beginning reading practice. Once you feel your child is successfully reading a beginning reader book in ten minutes or less, you can move up the time, in ten minute increments, to half an hour of daily reading practice.
As I mentioned in my previous post, this is a very relaxed way of how to teach beginning reading skills. It is how I personally taught my oldest to read and how I plan to teach my younger children. What works for me and my son, may not work for you and yours and that’s ok!
There are many ways to teach beginning reading skills out there and I hope that by sharing how I personally taught my child to start reading, without a curriculum, it inspires you that you can do the same.