For many people, reading seems to be one of the most intimidating subjects to teach your child. While reading is, in my opinion, the most important thing, academically, that you’ll ever teach your child, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. I’ve read that the average age span in which a child learns to read is 5-8. That’s only a span of three years — but it can seem like a vast chasm when your child is closer to the high end of that span, particularly when we’ve been schooled to believe that all children should be reading by sometime during their first grade year.
Why is that, do you suppose? I mean, do people go around thinking that every 12-month-old baby should be walking? Or that every 9-month-old should be stringing together sentences? Of course not! However, when kids hit elementary school, suddenly everyone seems to expect that they’re all going to develop at the same pace. Really, the biggest reason to push all 6-year-olds to read is crowd control. Think about it. Isn’t it much easier for the teacher if everyone can read their own instructions on their worksheets?
There is no need for this crowd control in a homeschool environment. In the home school, each child can be allowed to develop at his or her own pace, without feeling any stigma from being ahead or behind the crowd.
I recommend that every parent embarking on the journey to teach a child to read should begin by reading this article by Penny Gardner. It is a wealth of wonderful information.
In our home, we combine teaching sight words and phonics. My theory was that if my children had a handful of sight words that they easily recognized, they would have more confidence in their reading and be more willing to try their phonics skills on the words they didn’t recognize. One of the things that I have done is to make games from these sight word flash cards. I usually make two sets . I use one set as our call cards for the bingo games I make. Playing bingo is a lot more fun that simply reading flash cards. 😉 It also forces the kids to really pay attention to what the words look like. When we’re not playing bingo, I mix that set with a second set of cards and we’ll play Go Fish or Memory. Go Fish is one of my favorites because the kids have to call the cards they’re looking for.
We also like to play many of the games from the Games to Make website. The site features lots of fun sight word and CVC word games which are easily adaptable to homeschooling. With the CVC games, I’ll often alternate between having the kids decode the words and giving them each sound individually so that they have to blend the sounds.
We have also had success with the Explode the Code primer series.
Reading Is More Than Phonics by Vera Goodman
Reading Rescue 1-2-3 by Peggy Wilber (click title for link to website)
Reading Reflex by McGuinness
Reading Games For Young Children by Jackie Silberg and Deborah C. Wright
Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World by Jeffrey Freed
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.