You do not need a fancy computer, iPad or software program to teach your child to read. Word play and predictable print can pave the way to more fluent reading. A basic Word program or pencil and paper and pattern books are successful tools to use when encouraging your child to build reading skills.
Four-year-olds love to create words, especially if mom, dad or older sibling make it sound exciting. How much did that excited voice cost? Right, not a cent!
OK, now you’ve got your little one in your lap. Start with making word families. Word families are words that have the same ending, like bad, fad, had, etc. They inherently rhyme. Type or write the ending and underline it to distinguish it from the words you write down. Then suggest random letters for your child to try out in front of the word ending. Sound out the created word and keep going in this fashion. I find it easier to come up with beginning letters if I go down the alphabet in my mind to see what makes a word. After you have introduced and played the game with your child once or twice, you can have them suggest beginning letters. Children will love revisiting word families to show what they know as much as learning new word families to show off later on. The more your child plays with word families, the easier it is to recognize them in print somewhere else. Some children may even want to build a story with their newly acquired words. Post work on the refrigerator to celebrate the encounter. Cost is minimal. For the price of paper and a pencil or ink you would buy anyway for your printer, you’ve implanted a myriad of words in your precious one’s head.
Use a song like, “My Hat, It Has Three Corners.” Write the words individually on index cards, complete with capitalization and punctuation where they naturally appear. Arrange them line by line. Sing the song with your child in its entirety while pointing to the words. Then take away one word as many times as it appears and sing the song without that word. You can do this until all but one of the words is taken away and then play it in reverse by adding the words back. Remember to point to the words as you sing them. Repeating this game strengthens word recognition and is good for a lot of giggles when the song no longer makes sense. You can buy a pack of index cards at Target, WalMart or a dollar store for that matter for minimal cost.
Predictable Pattern Books
Books like Eric Carle’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” or Eileen Christelow’s “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” are great stories to get children to recognize words. The repetition of phrases gives added exposure to the words within the phrases. The only challenge becomes the few odd words on each page, which children eventually get through multiple readings. You can ask your local librarian where to find predictable pattern books. It’s free!
So for dirt cheap, you have given your child the priceless skills of word attack and recognition. Now take a deep bow! A very deep bow! Your child is on his or her way to reading success!