One of my biggest challenges this year is to teach Little Edison to read. He is a slow reader; it is very frustrating for me to sit with him and listen to him read. He couldn’t remember how to read common words like “and”, “where” and “with”, despite repeating them almost every day.
A year ago, I bought the whole series of Peter and Jane Ladybird books to teach him to read. My brother recommended the books to me; he used the books with his daughter too (she is a year older than Edison). My niece is making very good progress with the Peter and Jane books. I strongly believe by now, she is capable of reading the whole series by herself.
Personally, I like the Peter and Jane books because they are very structured, and they use an easy repetition method to teach and introduce new words gradually. Just when I thought that the books will work on all children, Little Edison proved me wrong.
I started reading the Peter and Jane books with him at the beginning of this year, but he showed very little interest. His mind often wandered elsewhere when I read aloud to him. When he still couldn’t read after a few attempts, I was very upset.
The biggest mistake that I made was to force him to keep reading and expressed my frustrations when he made mistakes. I knew that this is very bad, but I was at my wit ends on what to do to help him, and that really worn me out.
I made him feel worthless, and he was too afraid to make mistake. He became more hesitant to try to read. At the end, tears automatically rolled from his eyes whenever I ask him to read the Peter and Jane books. At this point, I knew that I had to stop and think of another way out.
In March this year, I started looking for Phonics classes for him. I wanted him to learn Phonics so that he will understand how words are made up of sounds which can be assembled in different ways to make different words. Once he develops the phonemic awareness, he should be able to acquire his reading skills easily.
From there, he started his Phonics lessons at Jan & Elly every Saturday till now. I’m so glad that he enjoys his weekly Phonics class at Jan & Elly, and started to regain confidence and show interest in reading again.
I’ve decided not to use the Peter and Jane anymore. So, I bought other short story books for him, mostly from the Scholastic Phonics Readers and he loves them. We did a lot of reading this year. This is how we do it:
1. I select one book for him to read every day. We will repeat the same book for 3 to 5 days, until he is able to read almost all the words by himself.
2. Using another exercise book, I’ll write down the new words that he doesn’t know how to read yet. We repeat reading these words 2 to 3 times a day using the exercise book.
3. Every time when he’s able to read a word correctly, I’ll give him a tick (beside the word). This way, I can track his progress. It also serves as an encouragement for him.
Whenever he gets a tick, he goes “Yay, I got a tick! Now I know how to read this word.”
4. Writing is another good way to make him remember the words. I’ll make a short sentence using the new words in his writing exercise book.
Example: Using two new words “some” and “them”, I’ll ask him to write the sentence “Some of them are big.”
5. Practice reading the worksheets from his Phonics class daily.
After a year of massive practice and encouragements, my biggest reward is to see him being able to read a story book all by himself. Now, we read 2 to 3 books every night. And what matters most to me is that he enjoys reading now. I enjoy reading with him too.
All those efforts have really paid off.
During this journey, I made mistakes and I learnt from my mistakes too:
1. Avoid forcing him to read when he expressed frustration
2. Avoid raising my voice or getting upset when he make mistakes
3. Avoid comparing him with other children. Every child learns at a different pace and I should not push him to go faster than he can.
4. Avoid setting high expectations. Learning never ends, and learning is extensive. Spread out the learning over weeks and even months, and never attempt to squeeze all the learning into quick sessions.
How do you teach your preschooler to read? If you have any tips to share, please leave me a comment here. I love to hear from you too!