I remember when I first faced this intimidating assignment with my oldest child: teach my child to read. All of the usual “what if” questions, with their corresponding imaginative answers, assailed my mind. “What if I tell her the wrong sound combination for a certain blend? She won’t know how to read those words for the rest of her life! What if I can’t explain it well enough? She’ll be illiterate when she’s 40!”
You may well chuckle now, but those were very real thoughts and fears back then. These days I don’t have those fears. My first three children are all reading well. My fourth has just achieved the triumphant milestone of moving from three-letter short-A words to three-letter short-I words. She is moving at a much slower pace than my first three did, but we are using the same methods and they are working.
For those of you who are in the season of life that offers you the privilege of teaching a child to read, I’m happy to share how we have approached the task. Here is the short version:
Step One: Learn the alphabet.
Step Two: Connect beginning sounds to alphabet letters.
Step Three: Connect ending sounds to alphabet letters.
Step Four: Put letter sounds together to make words.
I prefer to introduce just a few phonics rules to get the children started reading: mainly short vowel sounds, long vowel situations, and how “r” affects a vowel. Those are usually enough rules to get them started reading aloud. Then as we read aloud a little each day, we simply introduce other rules as they are needed.
If you would like details to go with the steps listed above, you can read a letter I wrote to a young mom many years ago.
Most of all, be encouraged! In most cases, if a child grows up in an environment where books and reading are loved, it will be very hard to stop him from learning to read.