In the southern hemisphere another school year is rushing towards us like an out of control train and your child is going to walk into another phase of their life – as a school kid. Start getting your child ready for school now. There is a great deal you can do to help your child when they first enter school, and the help you give will make a great deal of difference as to how fast your child learns how to read, write, and understand Mathematics. All families do their best to help their children, but many don’t really know how to. Yet just some basic support from you will make a world of difference on how well your child does at school. Here are some ideas I have found helpful on how to coach your child so they learn to read and write with ease when at school.
Teach your child phonics. Recent research has shown that a good grasp of phonics or the letter-sound relationships are a very first step for your child to when they are learning how to read and spell. don’t believe that understanding basic phonics is a difficult thing – it isn’t. If you understand how to coach your child in phonics skills your child will definitely pick up reading and spelling skills much more easily. Check out the websites on phonics and master basic phonics yourself, then look for simple phonics games and drills to play with your child. You can help them understand and use the letter-sound relationships necessary to write and read easily by playing phonics games and drills with them 10 minutes most days. I have created a game which you can buy if you want a fun and easy game that will have you both competing to win. If learning is fun – we can all learn quickly and relatively effortlessly. Learning the letter-sound relationships in fun, competitive ways will have your child reading books with pleasure and ease and full understanding before the end of the first year.
Regularly read to them and with them. You don’t have to stop reading to them or reading with them until they ask you to. Maybe they are in their early teens and you still read to them because they like it so much. Read books they can’t quite read yet, but are interested in. It will extend their vocabulary, their ideas about people and the world generally, as well as develop their ambition to read those books independently later.
- Make sure they are following the words you read with their eyes. You can slow your reading down and slide your finger along, and when the word is one they know – ask them to read it.
- Remember as you read with them that reading is fun and have fun with your child. That means you read books that you both like a lot, that you stop when they have had enough, and sometimes stop at an exciting part of the story so that they want you to read it again soon.
- Discuss the ideas, happenings and characters in the book as one reader does with another. Stop to answer questions and discuss ideas and thoughts that pop up as you read. Remember that it is not how much you read together, but how you read with them that makes beginning read to fun for your child.
Make sure your child is pronouncing words correctly when they speak. If you listen closely you might notice that they might not be pronouncing all the sounds correctly. Perhaps they can’t quite hear the differences between similar sounds, so gently but persistently help them with that. Correct pronunciation of words will help with their reading and spelling skills.
Make sure they are using the correct pencil grip. Many children write using a fist grip, or a grip which requires them to move their whole hand instead of just the fingers when writing. How exhausting! Help them out by gently and persistently correcting their grip.
Many are using the incorrect direction when they write letters. Make sure that they write all the letters using the correct direction and they are more likely to easily remember how to correctly write all letters. They may write from the bottom instead of the top of the line. This can lead to confusion when they write ‘b’ and ‘d’ for example. A few minutes extra practice writing at home will help them a great deal. Sometimes they just get a little confused and the sooner you help them sort that confusion the better.
My last suggestion to you is that you make coaching time with your child fun for you both. There are many reasons for that but perhaps the most important one is that then you will both want to spend coaching time developing your child’s ability to read and write, and so are more likely to coach regularly. Any other questions you have, please feel free to ask.