I'm sure you know how important it is to read. You know the research confirming how early readers have an advantage over other kids.
If you know anything about me, you know I love to read. In fact, I wrote an entire article about reading: How reading has changed my life and how it can change your kid's life too.
Reading is my favorite hobby. So I was determined to pass on this behavioral skill to my children as early as possible. Back when Rizwan was getting close to four years old, I started to investigate the most effective methods for teaching kids to read. There wasn't a shortage of options! Everything from flashcards to YouTube videos to cutting-edge Apps
Yet, my research found that THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO TEACH READING is a more than 30-year-old book called “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” I bought this inexpensive book and started the daily lessons with my child.
Now, both my kids are prolific readers, and I have to give credit to this book for paving the way.
Here’s the proven formula for teaching your child to read.
The book follows three effective ways to teach reading.
The first thing you need to realize when teaching your child to read is that English is a hard language to learn, as many words don't spell the same way they sound. The word "said" is not pronounced the way it sounds "sed." Many basic words such as "the" or "what" doesn't sound the way they are spelled. This makes it very hard for children to know how to pronounce letters, as depending on the scenario, the pronunciation is different.
In the sentence, "Sam had Spam", the letters all have the same sound. Each time the letter "a" has the same short vowel sound.
However, "he and she go to the lake" is much more complex for a child as the "e" in "he", "the" and "lake" sound completely different.
The book solves this problem by creating a different alphabet that creates unique letters for the various ways letters sound.
For example, the letter "a" can be pronounced
These are four different sounds from the letter A. The book will teach your child 44 different sounds and a variety of commons words they are used in.
To teach your child to read, you're going to have to prepare yourself first how to pronounce these 44 letters, called the DIFTAR alphabet.
Take the time before the lesson starts to learn the correct pronunciation of any letters you're going to teach your child. You'll confuse your child if you are confused. And trust me, you're going to be confused as this isn't an alphabet you've seen before.
But trust me as well in saying that this unique alphabet works wonders in helping your child understand the different sounds that letters make. I know this works because I saw fantastic results with both my kids.
The second thing you must do with this method is saying the words slowly and pronouncing the words without pausing between the sounds.
So let me walk you through some of the lessons, and give you a sense of the journey you're child will go on.
On day one your child learns how to sound out two letters. m & s
They also learn how to sound out sounds by saying them slow and then fast, for example iiiiffff and then "if". Lastly, you'll trace out the letters "m" and "s" and have your child practice writing the letters.Lesson one will probably take 15 minutes.
The next day in lesson two, you'll reinforce lesson one, giving your child an opportunity to show off their ability to sound out mmm and sss, as well as saying certain letters slow and then fast such as aaammm and then "am." The one new item for day two is your child will continue to trace the letters you wrote, but you'll now leave space for them to write themselves. Be patient here. Your child's writing isn't going to be remotely good. But trust me, with practice it's going to get better fast.
In lesson 3, your child will learn about the letter a and how it sounds out. They'll also learn how to sound out their first word. aaammm or am.
As noted earlier, the first few lessons are very repetitive and designed to build credibility. Your child needs to go slow, to go fast. Be patient!
By lesson 10, your child will know the pronunciation of 6 letters and is now regularly pronouncing words such as "see" & "me."
By lesson 20, your child is now reading basic sentences such as "the ram is sad," continuing to improve their writing and learning basic picture comprehension.
By the end of the first month, your child can read this sentence.
"this is a cat.
The cat can run.
Mud is on the cat."
The child can also answer basic questions about what they are reading, such as "what is on the cat?" They are also tested on word finding and encouraged to read the story three times. For the third time, the child is encouraged not to sound out the letters and instead read the words fast.You are going to be blown away by how emotional it is to see your child start to read.
By lesson 40, your child understands how quotation marks signal that somebody is saying something.
the cow sat on a little gate.
The cow said, "the gate is hot".
she said, "I hate hot gates.".
She said, "I will run now".
Lesson 60's story has a title and includes question marks. Its called:
"the man and his bed.
a man had a tub.
he said, "I'd like to sit in this tub and rub, rub, rub.".
then the man said, "now I will sleep in this bed."
but a dog was in his bed.
the dog said, "can I sleep in this bed?"
the man said, "I like to sleep in beds."
the man said, "this dog likes to sleep in beds. so he can sleep with me. but I do not like dogs that bite."
the dog said, "I do not like to bite."
so the man and the dog went to sleep.
and the dog did not bit the man".
Pretty impressive eh? The truth is neither of my children made it past this point. By now, both were enjoying learning to read so much, they had moved onto other books, and their reading capability was significantly accelerating each day.
By lesson 100, the child has transitioned off the unique DIFTAR alphabet to the standard alphabet, has learned to read lengthy books with excellent pronunciation.
There is a reason why over half a million copies of this book have been sold. With just twenty minutes a day, over a couple of months your child will learn to love to read. Plus, you'll create a bond between you and the child, that neither will ever forget. My wife, Rabia, is responsible for the majority of the admirable behavioral traits my kids have, but I know that my evening ritual with the kids also has had a significantly positive impact in their lives and has given them the tools needed to self-learn.
If you have a child that is about to turn four or know a friend/family member that is trying to teach their children to read, then please share this post and video with them. You can buy this excellent book from Amazon by clicking this link:
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
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With over 16 years of Operations Leadership at Apple, Iftikhar has had pivotal roles in launching the iPod, iPhone, iPad & Apple Watch. In late 2017, he launched k12toSTEMCareer.com with the goal of becoming a better parent to his children, Rizwan and Khadija. Today, over 1214 people follow Iftikhar's writings around STEM & Parenting. Read Iftikhar's personal story about his journey from an Introvert to a Director at Apple.
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