Child Education

Learning to Read - How to Pass on Early Reading Skills to Children

Learning to read is a fundamental step in most children's lives. So much emphasis is placed upon it in schools, that you would think that only professional teachers have the ability to pass on valuable early reading skills to pupils. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. If a parent has the desire to play a few simple fun games with their child, then a child can become a competent reader in a very short space of time. What is more, they won't even know they are learning.
Of late there has been a lot of debate over various teaching methods available to teach young children to read. And generally there has been a return to old fashioned phonics, which has  clearly been shown to be the best method to use when teaching reading to young children.
Phonics help children to decode words and give them the ability and confidence to tackle new ones.  If phonics is the key to breaking down words into chunks which can be sounded out, then high frequency words and repetition are the tools needed to build on confidence and give a sense of achievement.
The only problem here, is that once a child has begun school, the years where their eagerness, curiosity and ability to absorb information almost effortlessly has passed. This period in a child's development occurs between the ages of  18 months to 6 years. Once a child has reached the age of  5 or 6, he or she has already learnt life's routines. Sadly, all that was once new and exciting, slowly  becomes daily routine, as parents and society begin to impose the rules of formal learning.
This is indeed a shame, because the age a child is most receptive to learning something new is in those very early years. If you teach reading skills to a young child, they do not see it as formal learning, they see it as the game it should be. They absorb the information quickly and easily and without question, and as long as reading is taught in an un-pressurised environment, results can seen within a few short weeks.
It is important to stress that children cannot be forced to read. Parents or teaches who try to do this are domed to fail. This is clearly evident as 20% of UK children leave school every year unable to read properly and in America the rate is 1 in 7
Evidence shows that children who are early readers, improve their IQ and maintain their academic advantage over their peers. With this in mind it is a wonder that every loving parent who wishes to give their child a head start in life, is not making their own flash cards and scouring the internet for the very best information on teaching early reading skills.  
Allison Galpin
Former Nanny and English Teacher

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