Reading; Off to a Good Start

Reading is the key to the world’s wealth of information whether it be the works of great philosophers, poets, scientists or mathmaticians. How and when to start assisting your child to learn to read is one of the most talked about topics for homeschooling parents and it can lead to unnecessary anxiety. My first suggestion to any parent is to discover the learning style of your child prior to attempting to help them learn to read. I came upon this knowledge prior to my youngest child learning to read and it helped us greatly. The three learning styles; auditory, visual and kinesthetic; will learn to read in very different ways and the challenges for each group are unique.

The auditory child uses sound to assist them in learning and because of this they will like to be read to and then to read aloud even if it is to the family pet. Books accompanied by a CD or other technologial device are great for this child because they can hear and see the words at the same time. The visual learner will most likely have the easiest time learning to read, as they will see the words and remember them based on repetition. To make reading interesting for this child find ways to add pictures and fonts of different sizes and colors. If you have a kinesthetic learner, then be prepared to be patient with this child. Kinesthetics learn best by touching and doing making learning to read hard for them to endure because sitting still is not their forte. Some of the best tools for this type of learner are letter flash cards and tiles, which can be used to create words and then whole sentences. I write at length about the learning styles and how to assist each type with learning in my book, if you need more information on this topic please refer to it.

Timing; a very emotinally charged issue for the parent and in most cases not the child. Being asked if your child is reading is one of the most commonly asked questions and it can bring on mixed feelings. Two of my children, who are visual learners, taught themselves to read just by looking at books. My two kinesthetic learners needed a lot of help and reassurance from me and they both learned to read by age 7 but did not come to enjoy reading until their teenage years. I have known unschoolers who never pressured their children to learn to read and more traditional schooling families who had a strict timetable. What has been discovered is that a child who is force feed reading at a young age and the child who learns to read at age nine both end up reading on the same level very shortly. The reason for this is that the nine year old learns based on desire and proceeds to learn to read with such intensity that they literally progress through reading levels daily. I witnessed a friend’s child do this and it was truly amazing to see. He wanted to know about the solar system and just started reading any and every book he could find on the subject until in short order he had progressed form rudimentary children’s books to encyclopedias.

My desire is to reassure you as a parent that you can trust your child and watch for clues from them. Also do not be afraid to use unconventional reading materials such as a newspapers, comic books or magazines to let a child know that reading can be fun and interesting. Technological advances make finding abundant alternatives for every age and reading interest just a click away and your local library lends ebooks too. Remember, that seeing a parent reading is a huge plus because children love to learn from us even when we are not actively teaching.

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