How to teach children to read
How children learn to read
Many educational professionals maintain that there are four methods that
are effective for helping children learn to read. These methods include:
However, another method is gaining widespread acceptance, the 'word family' method is another way
children learn to read. It may even be the preferred, alternative method to teach children to learn to read.
Below is a summary of all the five methods.
How to teach children to read using the whole word method
The whole word reading method is also known as look and say
approach. With this method, rather than learning to sound out letters or letter clusters, children learn the whole
word at once. To teach this method, educators often use pictures or flashcards to represent the word. The focus is
on the look of the word.
Whole word reading has been criticised as not giving children strategies to read
unfamiliar words. Essentially, every word must be committed to memory rather than learning how the letters and
sounds form words. Most teachers maintain that a combination of phonics with whole word reading helps children to
read challenging or unfamiliar words.
How to teach children to read using the phonics method
The phonics method is the most known
method for teaching reading. Teaching children to read using the phonics method starts with letter and sound
association. Children first learn the sounds the different letters make and then learn how to blend these
sounds together to form words. Then reading commences with small words that are easy to 'sound out'. After
children master the smaller words, they move onto longer words.
The main problem with teaching reading using phonics, is that the
method provides strategies for blending sounds together and sounding out words, but it doesn't prepare children for
words that are not able to be sounded out, the irregular words. The phonics method, necessitates using simple
reading material and these reading books designed for phonic instruction are often uninteresting, lack substance
and boring. Therefore children are not motivated to read them.
Teaching reading Using The Immerse In Language Method
The immerse in language method utilises the
child's experiences to teach words and reading. For example, when a child draws a picture of their family, the
teacher might ask the child to identify the people in the picture. As the child says such words as "this is
mum", "this is my dad", "this is my dog Banjo", the teacher writes those words onto the picture. If a child
draws a picture of a donkey in a forest, the teacher writes the words "here is a donkey in the forest" onto
Some professionals suggest making a book out of children's drawings.
This personalised story book could then be filled with pages that the child can read independently, as they
are the author of the story. Teachers also encourage children to trace the words that have
been written to practice early writing skills.
Often teachers will implement this method before they begin teaching
reading using phonics, the whole word or any other reading method. As it is a useful way to help children
understand the connection between the pictures and the words. Unfortunately, this the immerse in
language approach is limited to teaching children mainly nouns, or naming words. Verbs,
adjectives, adverbs etc that don't have a common physical representation often cannot be taught by the immerse
in language method.
How to teach children to read using the in context method
As with the immerse in language method, the 'in context'
method uses the connection between pictures and words to attract and hold the attention of the student. Some
professionals believe that holding a child's attention is the single most important factor in learning to
read. An uninterested child is less likely to become distracted and not enjoy the learning experience. An
interested child is more likely to gain value from the reading experience.
Parents sometimes find it difficult to find reading books that has text that is
interesting and able to be read by beginning readers. Young children are often presented with
reading material written for their particular interests, such as dogs and princesses. However,
educators believe that the disinterest that many children eventually develop can be related to
the poor quality reading materials provided for them in the early years.
How to teaching children to read using word families
One of the major criticisms of the phonics method of teaching
children to read is that it addresses consonant sounds far better than it does vowel sounds. For instance, the
letter "d" is pronounced the same way, whether the word it is used in is "dime" or "dig". However, using those same
two words, the letter "i" can be either "short" or "long". This discrepancy in sound 'rules' makes it very
difficult for beginner readers to learn how to say the various vowel sounds.
The word family method addresses vowel sounds and consonant sounds in a way
that makes it easier to learn both. Word families
teaches children the consonant sounds and the main word blends. Rather than rely on memory, word
families uses the most commonly used family word blends to teach children how to read just about any
How children learn to read - summary
Summarising the various reading methods listed above, there really
is no one way to teach children to read. Each child is different and the best method may be a combination of
all of the above methods to teach your children how to read.
...Next - Ways to teach reading