What are some great methods for teaching children of all ages to read and to love reading?

Debbie - posted on 04/17/2010 ( 15 moms have responded )

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As a literacy tutor for the past 15 years, I know from personal experience how critical it is for children to learn to read and to learn to love to read. I love hearing tips from mothers on what works with their children. If anyone is having difficulties in this area, I would be glad to help.

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From studying how children learn I am of the impression that children will learn differently, at different stages in their life. I am a very good example of this because I am a completely different type of student than I was in school. I have learned so much in the last 3 years teaching myself many things.One child does not read better because of HOW they were taught, well I take that back, because you can certainly stunt learning by putting too much pressure on and by demanding them to things they are mentally not capable of doing yet, or by making a child feel stupid by comparing them to others such as with grades, but ones ability is ones ability at the time and when one can go forward they will learn more, hooked on phonics, phonics, whole language or not. What kids do learn by pressure and comparing is how to lie and how to cheat if they are not capable. In a school environment all children are grouped together by age and if they do not fit the norm, they are considered disabled. My eldest son was walking and talking very early and even reading a bit before school started and now he is said to have dyslexia, hum, What I have learned most about in the last 3 years is that we all learn differently and if that inner desire to learn is not fed what it needs and only when it needs it, things can go really wrong. I know everyone thinks differently about education but my challenge is to the parents who want the best for their kids to really put the time into studying how children learn and the damage that can be done if it is not done properly.

"Most people say they want what is best for their children but what they really mean is they want is what is most for their children. They are two very different things."
John Gatto

the place I would start in eduacting myself about how children learn is from the book by that exact name.
How Children Learn, By John Holt-(he has many great books)
Dumbing Us Down, By John Gatto-(same)
Punished By Rewards, By Alfie Kohn, I need to read more of his yet.

Most of us were raised in what is considered mass schooling, either public or private, so we really do not know how things could be if we were able to learn differently, it is hard for us to see it could work, especially when we had a good experience in school ourselves. But these books may open your minds to many other options and experiences. It has changed my life.

Lenicia, I think what has happened is the joy of books and reading was taken from you child, by forcing him to read what, when and how they said, made it no fun anymore, it compared him to others and now books and reading make him hate himself. This is exactly my sons experience. I strongly encourage you to read the books I recommended because they were of encouragement to me and therefore to my child, through me encouraging and sharing what I had learned, to know he is normal. In fact John Holt talks specifically about children, even those who struggle, being able to move at their own pace and suddenly it will click. Disablility or not, one learns how to adapt to their own needs to accomplish what they want to accomplish, our job is only to spark the desire or guide the desiring.

I am proud of the fact that you recognized the problem was not nessesarily your son, but the school, even though they were instigating and pointing the finger at him. My son was in 5th grade before I finally rescued him from that environment and I certainly regret it was not sooner because as you know the damage that can be/was done is hard to escape. My son has been out of school for 2 years, I mostly read to him, even though he was 12, and only in the last few months has he been reading on his own and really enjoying finishing a book and accomplishing things. he tells me stories about when he was in school he would copy papers and hide things and pretend he was reading, he would pick books that he had seen the show, such as Arthur, Spongebob, ect., so he could know the info he was supposed to be reading. He would lie about being sick and all these other things, how bad the bullying really was, In fact it was so bad he hated himself and wanted to die. He is a God fearing, soft hearted, loving child. I would never have suspected it. I can only imagine what he would be like today if he were still in school.

RELAX, educate yourself on what is best for your son, and he will be ready to love and explore books again soon. Blessings, coleen

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Sally - posted on 10/05/2013

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Teachers have been trained to tell you that good moms "help" the school "teach" the child to read by reading to them and answering their questions about letter names, letter sounds, and words; then try to force all children to read the same way at the same time holding back the fast ones and labeling the slower ones so they feel inferior. this isn't necessarily the teacher's fault. As any human, they only know what they have learned and sadly the majority of most teacher training programs is crowd control and bureaucracy compliance.
According to actual science, if parents do the "helping" and no "teaching" ever happens, all children without learning disabilities will figure it out for themselves between the ages of 3 and 12, with almost all of them getting it between the ages of 5 and 9. And kids who are allowed to learn it at their own pace are much less likely to consider it a chore to be hated and avoided.
After I learned that, I started leaving my kids alone. Everyone I know who has followed this "method", has children who (while they may have started "late") were quickly well past "grade level" once they got it. Almost everyone I know who used school methods has children who hate reading and avoid it all costs.

Tannis - posted on 10/04/2013

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One of our twins is very much a thinker and the other is a doer. They both love reading and being read to. Our school has a reading bingo on right now. If the kids get a blackout (25 books) the get a prize. Our girls are eating it up! Six books read since yesterday. If your schools don't do this, perhaps parents could set up an incentive program at home. They also enjoy going to the public library. They use my library card but maybe the kids could have their own cards. Our girls love having things of their own and enjoy checking out the books. When I was a kid, our public library had summer reading programs every year. Bigger prizes were available for those who read more books. So glad our girls love books!! Makes school easier for sure!

Karin - posted on 04/21/2010

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:D We were geek parents and started reading and singing to our children while they were in the womb. Then reading to our kids as often as possible, starting with basic board books (until they don't rip pages out of precious books). Then onwards and upwards. We have 4 kiddos, so each subsequent child heard not only Mom and Dad, but heard their brother or sister's voice as we read.
We use books as a part of potty training as well (if they have to sit there for X number of minutes, they might as well be distracted in a good way!), night time reading, and whenever they just pick up a book.
I also have a few apps on my phone that my little ones love! They are learning new words and sounds from the apps much more quickly than I thought.
Thanks for opening this post! There are some great ideas out here. :D

Tracy - posted on 04/20/2010

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I have two children aged 10 and 15. With both children, I read to them starting at about 5 months, when they could sit well in my lap and pay attention to a book. We started with picture books and texture books. I read to them several times a day and at bedtime. We had puzzles that helped them learn shapes and colors too because these things help with reading skills. Later we had ABC letters in the bath tub and on the refrigerator. And we had ABC puzzles and flash cards. We also sang a BUNCH of songs, because this helped with language and cadence. We advanced to story books, and I let them point to things and turn the pages. By age 4 they were both pre-emergent readers, so their preschool teachers let them read little books for that level. Before they started Kindergarten, during that summer, I used Hooked on Phonics, which I either checked out at the library or purchased inexpensively on eBay. (The library copies were worn out by the time my daughter got to be the right age.) They were really reading by the time they started Kindergarten. My son was taught reading in school using whole language and some phonics, but my daughter was taught reading strictly using phonics. Now, they both read very well, the only difference is that my daughter can read at a lightning-fast pace (I can't keep her in books - she's read all the Newberry Award winners, so we are having to find Newberry Award nominees to satisfy her 5th grade reading log.) She also enjoys reading more as a hobby than my son does. He will read for class, but not so much for pleasure. I hope this changes!!

Maggie - posted on 04/20/2010

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My daughter (who is 17 1/2 months - 16 1/2 corrected) is crazy for books. She gets more excited over a new book thanshe does over a new toy. We started reading to her the day that we found out we were pregnant. Now Becky will go into her room where she has a little reading nook and grab one of her picture books off the self and start looking at it. When I think that she is being too quiet I will go into her room and more often than not she is siting there looking at her books.

She has also started to bring books out to me during the day and saying "read mama" ad she curls up in my lap while I read the story to her.

We also read to Becky before bed. It is part of her routine. Before Mommy and Daddy do tubbie she picks out a book for Mommy to read to her and she puts it on the chair in her room that I sit in to read her her bedtime story.

We have also been doing the Dr. Suess flashcards with her and she is picking up on some of the concepts. (i.e. if the card says up she stands up, if it says down shesits down).

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My first daughter is five years old and from a baby we always read books and she was always into learning new things.As she grew up i left her to her own device and allowed her to do the things she liked and didnt push the things she didnt.

She Was always above average for her development in all areas talking,walking etc..

At the age of 3 she was wanting to buy books and books to trace letters. At the age of 2 she was in playschool for 3-4 year olds because she was out of nappies from one and advanced enough...as i said shes five now and i had her first school meeting a few mths back and the teacher told me she has a fantastic learning ability and her reading and writing is excellent for her age.She had a test of 20-30 words and only got two wrong.So proud.She always had learning in her blood so i think she always will.

My seond is following along in her footsteps:-)

Len - posted on 04/20/2010

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I have an almost 7 yr old. Up until he started kindergarten he LOVED books he would rather look at books then play with cars or watch movies. We would go shopping and he would throw a fit for a book not toys. Well he did good in kindergarten until they started the reading. He started struggling and so they sent him to special reading classes and that's where the problem started. I pulled him out of school and started homeschooling him because it became a behavior problem . Now at home I read to him and he likes that but ask him to read a single word and he freezes and get mad. I keep hoping that if he likes book then I can get him to read. Do you have any suggestions that my help with out him feeling criticized and self-conscious?

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I now love to read but did not until I found things I was interested in to read. I always read to my boys as they were growing up but when school time came around that changed. My son has signs of dyslexia and does not like to read at all and being forced to read in school has only made him feel incompetant. I now homeschool and have lightened up on the forced reading. I have read much from John Gatto about children loving to learn when they can do it in their own time and at their own pace so I am letting my children direct their learning. My son now has started to pick out books at the library and has built up some confidence and self motivation. I strongly believe in children making their own choices in regaurds to their education.

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I read books with my little ones several times a day. We play games in the car such as I spy the letter.... and we make up rhyming games. We sing the ABC's and my 4 year old loves to play with his magnetic letters. He has been naturally curious about letters and sounds so we talk about them alot. I just follow his lead and let his interest be my guide. When he shows interest in letters, sounds, and words, we do different activities together and he has been picking up reading pretty much on his own! I also take him to the library weekely and choose books that are related to whatever his current interests are. (right now, it's dinosaurs and sea creatures). He is not very interested in writing, though. That is something I'd like to work on with him a little bit!

Catherine - posted on 04/17/2010

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I love to read! I make it fun by having flash cards and block books and things he is interested in. He loves books too now!! When we're in a store he will go to the books instead of toys, which i love. My oldest hates reading but is doing better now. I read to my oldest a lot in the beginning so i did some else with my 2nd!

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we have read to both of our kids from the time they were infants, we used a lot of books that were just picture books with the words underneath and a lot of alphabet books to learn the sounds of the letters. but most of all, i think is that they see us reading, and we make it fun, we dont push it on them at all. my son is 6 now and is in first grade and reads better than 85% of his class. his sister is 4 and knows the sounds of letters, and can write quite a bit.. and points out letters in text. =) he reads to her, and to us, and we take turns reading to them =) they love it!

Theresa - posted on 04/17/2010

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I think if you read to them a lot right from the beginning that they will enjoy reading as they get older. I also think that your children need to see you reading and enjoying it.

Givonna - posted on 04/17/2010

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My daughter is two and i just read to her @ bed time. I also let her pick the story too. she is starting to recognize small words like" the" & "and". It seems to be working pretty well.

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