The Best Methods to Teach Children to Read

June 23, 2019
Learning to read is one of the most important things that a child will do at school. Knowing the best methods to teach children how to read is very important for parents and teachers alike.

Learning to read is one of the most important things that children will do before they turn 10 years of age. Everything in their educational development, from the expansion of their vocabulary to their performance in all the main subjects, is related to their ability to read. Because of this, getting to know the different ways to teach children to read is very important.

There are no two children who learn to read in the same way. That’s why there are several different methods. The key when looking for methods to teach children to read is usually to choose one approach and stick with it.

However, for teachers, it’s a good idea to combine different methods and strategies. In this way, they can adapt them to the needs of the children in the classroom. This is especially important for students who have specific learning needs.

It’s important to remember that motivation is key. We must be patient in order to avoid introducing negative associations with school and learning in general.

Pre-reading skills

Children begin to acquire the skills they need to master reading from the moment they’re born. In fact, a child who is only six months old can already distinguish between the sounds of his mother tongue and those of a foreign language.

The Best Methods to Teach Children to Read

At 2 years of age, he’ll already know enough native phonemes to regularly produce more than 50 words. Between 2-3 years, many children learn to recognize several letters.

As fine motor skills advance, the ability to write, draw and copy shapes also advances; we can combine this to help them start writing letters.

There are many ways in which parents can foment their children’s pre-reading skills. Pointing to letters when they’re reading a story is one of them. It can also be useful to ask their children about their day and to talk with them every day to enhance the development of their narrative skills.

It’s important to go with your children to bookstores and libraries, and also to read with them. The more children read with their parents, teachers and caregivers, the more we’ll be ensuring that reading will become a natural family pastime.

Teach children to read with the Phonetic Method

A phoneme is the smallest phonological unit, the shortest articulation of a vowel and consonant sound. Phonemes are the basic units of spoken language.

In an alphabetic language, sounds are translated into letters and combinations of letters in order to represent words. Therefore, reading depends on the ability of an individual to decode words in a series of sounds. Coding is the opposite process to reading, and is how we learn to spell.

The Phonetic Method (also called phonics) helps to teach by reading some of the letters and sounds which make up syllables, words and phrases.

It’s a method that takes us from the simplest to the more complex. The easier part is to go from recognizing the first letter to reading the syllable. The most difficult part is to read the words first and then advance, little by little, towards the goal of reading the complete sentence.

This is one of the most popular methods for teaching children to read, and, at the same time, is also one of the most used. At first, progress can be slow and there are lots of pauses while reading. But, little by little, the cognitive processes involved in the “translation” between letters and sounds become automatic and more fluid.

Reading with the Naked Eye

This method teaches reading at a word level. Children skip the decoding process, and don’t pronounce the words using their letters and syllables. Rather, they learn to read by recognizing the written form of the words.

The context is important and providing images can help. More familiar words can be presented initially by themselves, then in short sentences, and finally in longer sentences. As their vocabulary grows, children begin to extract rules and patterns for themselves, and these will help them to read new words.

Reading through this method is an automatic process and, sometimes, it’s called reading at a glance. After being exposed several times to different words, children will start to read most of the vocabulary they find at first sight.

The Best Methods to Teach Children to Read

The Linguistic Experience Method

The Linguistic Experience Method for teaching reading is based on personalized learning. In it, the words taught are different for each child. The idea is that it’s a lot easier to learn words that a child is familiar with.

Teachers and parents who apply this method can create stories in which a child’s favorite words are used in different contexts. Children, for example, can make drawings for those words and put them together in a folder to create a special reading book.

We can look for these words in children’s literature and use them to help children guess the meaning of words they don’t know, as and when they appear in each context. This is a great strategy for improving comprehension.

In short, when teaching children to read, it’s essential to take into account each child’s needs and interests. We must pay careful attention to how they develop, always being attentive to their specific needs.

 

  • Lilliana Borrero Botero. Enseñando a leer: Teoría, práctica e intervención. Editorial Norma, 2008.