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How my 7 year old learned to Read


One of my questions before was how will Yesha learn to read.

But then, at around six or seven years old, Yesha has learned to read chapter books and is quite enjoying it. She can now read independently on her own with fluency and comprehension. But she still sometimes need assistance for big words such as miraculous.

When she was around four or five years old, her pre-K years, I was already thinking how should I teach her to read, like how we adults read. For instance with the word “cat,” in a flash of a millisecond, you simultaneously know it’s a furry animal that meows and you know how to read and pronounce the word “cat.” As a homeschooler, that was my goal for Yesha.

There was a reading program offered by our homeschooling provider. It was a book where teachers follow the step by step teaching of word sounds, beginning from ey sound to z sound. I was overwhelmed as there were so many sounds like soft “o” as in for bot, or long “o” as in coat.

Needless to say, I found it tedious, especially that Yesha didn’t like it. So to cut it short, we didn’t pursue with the reading program. I’m not saying this is not effective. I have a homeschooler mom friend who used this. And I think it worked for them. However, she always need to motivate her child to get to the reading lesson.

Going back, after doing my own research, this is how Yesha learned to read.

Learning the different alphabets

We’ve been singing the ABC song to Yesha since she was a baby. So at the time that she was already beginning to walk and toddle, she can already recognize the alphabets and their names.

Learning the alphabet sounds

The alphabet sounds are the foundational skill for phonetic awareness in words. “A” is for “ah”; “B” is for “buh.” For this, we just let her watch the ABC sound by Super Simple Songs. We also sing this together.

Singing nursery rhymes

When Yesha mastered a song, we sing it while following the lyrics. That way, she can associate the words to the sounds they created. Moreso, singing nursery rhyme songs has familiarized Yesha with rhyming words. A skill that she needed for learning to read.

Learning phonics

When Yesha already learned the sounds of alphabets, she’s ready to begin identifying the sounds from words. This skill will also enable her to learning blending the sounds.
In her lessons, there were exercises where she needed to identify the beginning sound of words.
Example activity instruction #1: Tell me the beginning sound of the following words,
1. house
2. goat
Example activity instruction #2: Tell me the ending sound of the following words,
1. Train
2. Car
Other exercises included identifying words that have the same beginning sound.
Example activity instruction #1: Encircle the picture that have the same beginning sound.

1. house, hat, mat.

2. Cat, elephant, cow

Example activity instruction #2: Encircle the picture that have the same ending sound.
1. house, hat, mat.

2. Cat, elephant, cow

Apart from phonemes, there were also rhyming words. Nursery rhymes songs are great introduction for this activity.

Example activity instruction #1: Clap your hands twice if the words rhyme, and clap your hands only once, when they don’t rhyme.
a. chair, hair
b. phone, cone

c. table, chair

Learn to read by blending sounds

For this one, I relied mostly on an app which has a game on blending sounds.

Read aloud bonding time

In our experience, I would guess that this is the biggest factor that allowed Yesha to read fluently. Reading books and articles in our family is a way of life.
When we read aloud, we usually follow the words that I read with my finger. When Yesha encounter certain words several times, such as cheer or beautiful , it goes to her long term memory. Until in her 5th or 6th encounter of the words (just an approximate), she knows how to read it on her own.
I didn’t teach her that “cheer” has a “long e” sound or that “boat” has a “long o” sound. And what about the word “beautiful?” I don’t know if there’s a rule for that. No, I didn’t teach her these. By everyday reading aloud and repetitive encounters of these words, she just learned.
There was also sight words that I introduced to Yesha. But it was a bit redundant because these sight words are frequently encountered during our real aloud.

Reading books from Level 1 to Level 3

learn-to-read

Reading level 1-3 Read Yourself books created confidence in her. It allowed her to read independently. Level 1 books have big pictures on a single page, with very simple sentences and simple words.

We counted the Read Yourself books that she can read on her own. I would say, “Yesha, you can now read 7 books on your own. Wow!” And her face would broke into broad smile, showing how proud she was of herself. This created confidence in her, and more importantly, interest and love for books.

Filipino Words

For Filipino words, I did a brief intro for her. I created a chart from a e i o u to za ze zi zo zu. I pointed at different phoneme (ex: me, po, le) and asked her to identify. It was easier because she already knows how to blend. Now at 7 years old, she can read Filipino, but not as good as with English. Probably because we don’t read Filipino books everyday. This is a work in progress.

Overall, it was a smooth and enjoying journey for me and Yesha. I was able to reach my goal without stress. Yesha also learned reading without stress too, which is very very important. Our reading journey can be summarized in four activities, namely, alphabet and phonetic sounds, singing nursery rhyme songs, read aloud bonding, and reading level 1-3 books.

Writing all these, it’s still important to know that children are different. Some would be interested to read at 8 or 9. Some children have outdoorsky personality that they want to tumble and play outside than learn to read. It’s important to find the balance of their personality, their cognitive development, and the need for learning to read.
The most important to work on I guess is motivation. People, young and old, love stories. Books with quality illustrations and engaging stories are a great way to motivate young children to read. Take advantage of it.
To learn more about how to teach your child to read, click here.

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