Growing Bookworms: Teaching your child to read

Growing bookworks Jan 2020

Growing Bookworms

When my son, Gregory, was a small lad, he was eager to learn how to read as quickly as possible. He became positively frustrated because he was not able to read. Our local protocol is that children only start learning the alphabet in grade 0 (reception) and learning to read in grade 1 (the year they turn 7). Greg was only 5 when his inability to read became a problem for him.

I decided to start trying to teach Greg to read myself, after all how hard could it be … I’d been reading since I was 5 years old and I have two degrees and a great deal of determination. Well, it turned out to be a little more difficult and complex than I anticipated. We did get there in the end, but I am sure the path to success would have been easier if I have followed a few simple steps up front.

The four main steps in teaching a child to read are as follows:

  1. Making them aware of the written word all around them;
  2. Teaching your child about the different sounds – phonemic awareness;
  3. Teaching your child, the letters of the alphabet and the sounds related to each letter phonics;
  4. Demonstrating to your child how the different sounds fit together to form words.

Awareness of the written word

Pointing out word usage in your immediate environment helps your children understand the purpose of words and reading, and their usefulness in society. When I drove my children around, I always pointed out road and other signs to my boys. I also pointed out newspaper sellers who sold newspapers that people read and always took them into bookstores so they could see the books. We also had lots of books at home which I read to my sons every day, sometimes for up to two hours. I can remember taking two-year-old Greg with me to the obstetrician and my sitting and read to him for between 2 and ½ and 3 hours. Last time I visited, the receptionist still remembered my son as “the boy who sat and listened to stories for three hours.”

As a result of my efforts, my boys came to appreciate the purpose of reading and writing as an important communication tool. This led to both demonstrating a keen interest in learning how to read.

Awareness of sounds

There are lots of different ways to help your children become aware of sounds. The methods my boys and I enjoyed the most were singing nursery rhymes and songs and playing “Eye spy” in the car.

There are other fun games you can play with your child including the following:

  1. Making up songs and poems using different rhyming words;
  2. Listening games where children close their eyes and identify a sound such as crumpling paper;
  3. Playing with words to see if you child can identify the error, for example saying let’s stay instead of let’s play;
  4. Play dancing, clapping and stamping games;
  5. Reading rhymes and sentences that use alliteration and assonance.

Phonics

This is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (letter groups).

You can find some great step-by-step information on teaching children phonics here: https://www.theschoolrun.com/phonics-teaching-step-by-step

There are lots of fun YouTube videos to help you teach children Phonics.

Blending sounds

Children need to be familiar with the blending of sounds to form words before they can read. One of the best ways of demonstrating the blending of sounds is by reading repetitive books and rhyming books.

My boys loved the Poppy and Sam Farmyard Tales books and the Dr Seuss books. I read these to them repeatedly until they could point out the words and say them because they had memorised the books.

You can purchase the Poppy and Sam Farmyard Tales books here: Amazon US

You can purchase the Dr Seuss books here: Amazon US

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Other methods I used to familiarise my children with words and sounds were letting them listen to audio books, they loved the Roald Dahl books and listened to these repeatedly. I think I still know most of them off by heart.

Michael was a sickly boy and was off school for over 40 days per year during his first years of schooling. During these long periods of convalescence at home, he listened to a huge array of audio books including many of E Nesbit’s books including The Railway Children and Five Children and It. He also listened to all the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton and even some non-fiction books about Romans, Vikings and mythology.

My oldest son is an enthusiastic and copious reader and recently read 1984 by George Orwell. He has Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton next on his list.

Michael isn’t as fast or advanced a reader as Greg, but he still reads every day and enjoys reading. I think my efforts to instil a love of reading in them have played a bit role in their attitudes towards reading.

Did you teach your children to read? What methods did you use?

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. I also have three short stories in Death Among Us, a collection of short murder mystery stories by 10 different authors and edited by Stephen Bentley. These short stories are all published under Robbie Cheadle.

I have recently published a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

***Just a note here, since Robbie is so modest. She has five stories of dark fiction coming out in anthologies during October in 2019. “The Siren Witch”, “A Death Without Honour”, and “The Path to Atonement” will appear in Dan Alatorre’s Nightmareland  horror anthology, and “Missed Signs” and “The Last of the Lavender” will be featured in the WordCrafter paranormal anthology, Whispers in the Dark.



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Growing Bookworms: Making learning the alphabet fun

Growing bookworks Jan 2020

In the Southern hemisphere, January is the time of year when our children start a new school year. This year, my youngest son is starting secondary (high) school which means, new environment, new friends, new teachers – just about new everything. He is anxious about it and I keep reminding him that the groundwork for this transition to high school has been laid over many years of nursery, pre-prep and prep school and he is well equipped to deal with the changes.

Sitting with him over the past few weeks of his holiday (and mine) and ensuring he reads [and understands] his first high school English set work book and his first Afrikaans (second language) reader, I was reminded of when I taught both my boys to read when they were six years old. In South Africa, children only start reading when they are seven, but my boys were keen to read and I saw no reason why I, with two degrees and the equivalent of a masters, couldn’t teach them something so common place. Ha! It proved to be significantly harder than I expected and I take my hat off to pre-prep teachers who teach children to read so effortlessly. For me it was a slog. Of course, it didn’t help that I forgot to start by teaching Gregory the alphabet. I am not sure how I thought he would read words before he could recognise his letters, but somehow, it slipped with me. Despite my only teaching Greg the alphabet after I taught him his first two hundred sight words, he still learned to read quickly and is now an accomplished reader. I can no longer say he is a prolific reader as, at seventeen years old, he is not that keen on reading at the moment. Hopefully it will change down the line when the allure of being the same as everyone else wears off.

Anyhow, these memories led me to thinking how important knowing the alphabet and learning the sounds is for children as they travel the path towards literacy.

My boys and I had a lot of fun learning the alphabet. Michael, aged three, got to sit in on Greg’s (aged six) lessons, and Greg (aged nine) got to help Michael (aged six), when he started his reading journey. One of our favourite past times, when Greg was learning, was singing the alphabet song:

Greg, Michael and I also used our time in the car to learn the alphabet. We played a game called “I spy” and we would each chose an item that started with a certain letter and the others would have to guess what it was. This game was a lot of fun and we played it for a number of years. The boys used to ask for it when we traveled. Now they ask for audio books and we listened to an awful lot of Eva Ibbotson books when we toured Scotland in August 2019.

The third fun activity we played to learn the alphabet was to bake an item that started with a certain letter. It had to be an exact sound match so, we couldn’t for example, make gingerbread for the letter “g”. This game and tasting session was very popular and sometimes we invited friends over to join in the fun. I specifically remember making jelly cakes [have you ever heard of those – if not you will find the recipe in Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook.

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Multicoloured jelly cupcakes

The nice thing about baking with children is that it is also a wonderful opportunity to teach them maths concepts like grams and kilograms and millilitres and litres. They also learn to weigh and measure and realise the importance of being exact. I even taught mine about ounces and pints as some of my cook books use English measures.

Do you know any fun games to teach children the alphabet? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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