Learning to read is an important childhood experience. After all, opening up the world of the written word is considered a milestone in the development of our charges. Children who are now embarking on the journey of learning to read are now faced with the challenge of decoding the individual letters. With a little support, they quickly make their first progress. English tutoring and list of first grade sight words as well as targeted early childhood education provides individualized assistance in this context.
Learning to read is a complex process that begins long before children enter elementary school. First, however, children must understand that there is much more behind the individual letters than a mere picture. This awareness develops at many different stages and is fostered above all by targeted language support. Parents have a wide range of options for actively accompanying and supporting their children in their learning. Intensive reading promotion should begin in preschool at the latest.
Learning to read as a means of acquiring written language
Before our youngest children learn to read 1st grade spelling words, they must first understand that letters are not empty pictures, but represent a concrete statement. Only when this understanding is present are children able to learn to read. In this process, similar to learning arithmetic, children acquire initial skills before the actual elementary school years that they will need later to learn to read (cf. Oerter, 2008).
Phonological awareness is considered the most important precursor skill for successful reading and writing acquisition. It includes the competence to perceive formal properties of spoken language. This includes not only words, but also smaller units such as syllables and sounds.
The stage model in reading
1st grade spelling words illustrate the concrete process of literacy acquisition. They provide a good overview of how children learn to use language in detail. However, it should be borne in mind at all times that development is by no means linear. Rather, the transitions are fluid. It may well be that a child is further along than others of his or her age. After all, every child is characterized by an individual learning pace (cf. Rückert, 2010). Would you like to support your child’s development? In our homeschooling section you will find many more helpful tips on how to support the different stages in reading.
Stage model for learning to read
Fig. 1: Learning to read according to the stage model
Stage: At this stage, our young children do not yet have a deeper understanding of the sound-letter relationship. Nevertheless, they are able to recognize certain words based on characteristic features. Therefore, this stage is also called the logographic stage.
Stage: Here, the children already make the first connections between sound and letter. By acquiring this ability, they can consequently read their first words.
Stage: Our youngest children are gradually able to identify larger units of written language. In addition, reading accuracy and speed continue to increase.
Phonetics – recognizing and distinguishing sounds
If you want to support your child in the acquisition of language and writing at an early age, it makes sense to start with the promotion of phonics. For example, you can place several objects on the table that are clearly different from each other in their initial sounds. For example, you can place a spoon, a marble or a button on the table. Then ask your protégé which word begins with the letter “L”. In no time at all, he will understand which object is the right one. The more confident your child becomes, the more objects you can add. At the beginning, however, make sure that you use few things whose initial sounds are too similar.
If you want to make learning a little more varied, you can take advantage of the variety of media. There are many different learning apps that playfully promote the differentiation of sounds and their position in the word. This ensures that you won’t get bored while learning to read.
Learning to read by differentiating word components
When learning to read, it is particularly important for children to be able to identify individual word components. This helps them acquire the competence to easily recognize individual words. If they feel confident in the use of syllables or the subdivision of words, reading will be much easier for them. In addition, they will be able to recognize new words more easily and the reading flow will also be optimized.
Learning to read syllables
The best way for children to learn that words consist of individual syllables is by clapping. They clap their hands for each individual syllable. Most children internalize the principle very quickly. If you want to increase the level of difficulty, you can also modify the training. Meanwhile, the kids can hop for each syllable. There are no limits to your imagination.
Reading the syllables, on the other hand, is not that easy. How are children supposed to know which letters are combined to form the corresponding syllables? To make syllable reading easier for your protégé, you can color-code the letters of a syllable. Syllable sheets are also a popular method to simplify the learning process. You can find a large selection of first reading books that use the syllable method on the Internet or in bookstores.
Syllable exercise Learning to read
Fig. 2: Syllable practice helps learn to read
There are many ways to help our youngest learn to read. However, many parents do not know what to look for or which approach is particularly suitable for their own child. To help your little one become a real bookworm, we’ve put together 11 tips for learning to read through play.
- be a reading role model
You can actively encourage your protégé to learn to read by acting as a role model. If your offspring sees that you regularly pick up a book or the daily newspaper, you actively awaken in them the desire to read for themselves. After all, kids want to be able to do everything their parents teach them.
2 Getting to know the alphabet
Before your child begins to learn to read and to tackle his or her first texts, your protégé should first master the alphabet. To create this important foundation, illustrations of the alphabet help in everyday life. In addition, you can combine reading promotion with the first small tasks. Meanwhile, you can teach your child to write his own name and that of his parents. In this way, they will develop a feeling for letters and sounds step by step.
- learning with fun & games
Learning to read is a serious matter, but fun should not be neglected. The general rule is that fun and games are the key to successful learning. Because only if the joy of learning to read remains, your protégé will conquer the world of letters in no time. There is a wide range of ways to make learning to read fun. Why don’t you make up the newly learned letters together from toothpicks or look for them together while shopping? But also rhyming games are a great way to strengthen the feeling for language.
- learning to read with your favorite heroes
Whether it’s Elsa, Superman or Ninjago. All children have a favorite character they know from stories, television or the movies. This childlike fascination can be used to promote reading, because after all, there are suitable first-reading books for almost all characters. This makes learning a real highlight.
- use a variety of media
You want to make learning to read a very special experience or want to motivate it in a special way? Children not only grow up with an incredible variety of media, smartphones, tablets and the like are also incredibly appealing to them. Take advantage of this fascination and let your child read his or her favorite story on the tablet. You can also use comics, audiobooks or learning apps to boost your child’s motivation to learn.
6 Reading aloud together
Even if your child can already read by himself, reading aloud together should not be neglected. Reading together with your child early, often and for a long time not only promotes the learning process, but also strengthens the parent-child bond. In addition, children who are regularly read to have significantly fewer problems at school.
- let children choose the books
Let your child decide what to read. Take your child to the bookstore or local library and browse through the different sections. However, make sure that the level of difficulty is appropriate for your child’s age and level of knowledge. This way, you can avoid frustration and a loss of interest in reading. Meanwhile, especially beginners should use books with large font, simple words and lots of pictures to learn to read.
- do not judge mistakes negatively
Especially in the first years of elementary school, our youngest children acquire a lot of knowledge. Therefore, it is important to actively strengthen the little ones’ willingness to learn. Of course, mistakes are included in this. Of course, these should be corrected. However, care should be taken not to comment negatively on them and give the kids the impression that they have not achieved their learning goals.
9 Creating a sense of achievement
The general rule is that without a sense of achievement, not only does motivation drop, but learning success also fails to materialize. This is essential for the long process of learning to read. A child who regularly experiences a small sense of achievement not only has greater self-confidence, but is also convinced of his or her own abilities. Therefore, organize the process of learning to read with your child in such a way that he or she can regularly experience small successes.
- learning to read needs time and rest
Especially in the beginning it is important to give your child time to learn. Don’t get irritated when your protégé asks you for the hundredth time how to pronounce a letter correctly or mispronounces a word. The right learning environment is just as important. Since reading requires a lot of concentration from the little ones, you should make sure that you choose the right environment. Choose a quiet place with few distractions. This will make it much easier for your child to learn to read.
- use targeted programs to promote reading
Another way to help children learn to read is through targeted reading programs. In particular, many kindergartens offer programs to develop phonological awareness. One of the best-known is the Würzburg training program “Listen, Listen, Learn,” which was developed at the Psychological Institute of the University of Würzburg. The program uses exciting games to teach the structure of our language. But the “Antolin” training program is also enjoying growing popularity, for example at the Wuhlheide elementary school in Berlin. Using interactive quizzes, the young readers have to answer quiz questions about the content. In this way, the kids are motivated to take an in-depth look at the content of the book.