After more than a century of public education, the basics of early reading and literacy are fairly well understood. There is no subject more fundamental than reading, as it forms the basis for all education. The earlier a child starts reading, the more successful they are likely to be in school.
Like all complex skills, reading is a combination of knowledge and skill in subjects which combine to form an ability to adapt knowledge at higher levels. A child who knows how to spell, for example, is going to have a much easier time working out advanced vocabulary than one who does not.
The truth is, although reading might be a challenge for little ones, teaching literacy is relatively simple, and based on a small number of fundamental skills.
Patience and Practice
Learning to read is a process. Not only are new readers learning to identify and pronounce the written word, but also understand its meaning and context within the sentence. Providing new readers with an encouraging and patient environment is critical to the development of great reading skills. Discouragement (which may take many forms from impatience to frustration) may cause new readers to hesitate, become unfocused and further struggle in their reading.
For young readers, for instance new readers learning phonics for kindergarten, phonics can be a challenge. A traditional method of learning phonics can lead to frustration, hesitation and difficulty for children (especially those as young as in kindergarten,1st grade, 2nd grade, etc…) trying to wrap their heads around letters and their various combinations. Consider this, how would a child sound out words like “Where” or “Were” when being expsed for the first time?
Help Them Take Challenges
All children should be relentlessly encouraged to move forward in their reading skills. Only by achieving milestones in their education will they get the validation and confidence they need to get to the next level. There is no upper limit on what children should be allowed to achieve when it comes to reading. Like Kung Fu, reading education is never perfected, only improved.
The very fastest way to discourage an advanced reader is to prevent them from moving forward. Children are naturally curious and naturally chafe at what they interpret as artificial limits. If they advance at their own pace, whatever that pace may be, they will eventually reach their potential.
Create More Choices For Them
Providing books that match your child’s interests are one of the best ways to encourage reading. For instance, If your child shows interest in marine animals, a book on sea life will be encouraging to them. Every page increases their literacy and comprehension skills. Every book improves their confidence. Early reading and continued reading are two of the most powerful positive feedback loops in all of education.
Therefore, if a child shows even the tiniest glimmer of interest in reading or reading classes, teachers and parents alike should jump at the chance to encourage them. Snuffing that enthusiasm out by withholding certain books on the basis of personal opinion serves no purpose other than to put an end to promising momentum.
In The End, Just Let Them Read
While all of these teaching techniques don’t apply to every phase of a child’s education when it comes to reading, they will reinforce nearly any curriculum at most grade levels. Reading doesn’t have to be a chore and teaching it shouldn’t be either.