How to Teach 4 to 6 Year Old Child to Read
Many parents understand the importance of teaching their children to read, and begin to teach their children some basics of reading at around 4, 5, or 6 years old. The undeniable fact is that kids who read will succeed. The more a person reads, the more knowledge they gain, and studies have even found that reading directly affects a child's intellectual development. Who doesn't want to give their child the best possible start in life?
But how do you go about teaching a young child to read? Do you put all your hopes on the education system, or do you plan on taking a much more proactive role in teaching your child to read? We, of course, prefer the latter. While many parents realize the importance of reading early, most are at a loss of what to do and how to go about teaching their kids to read. Whether your child is 4 years old, 5 years old, or 6 years old, the approach to teaching them to read is similar, and that is through simple phonics lesson plans with a very strong focus on helping your child develop phonemic awareness.
Children ARE Eager Learners
Children develop and mature at different rates. You'll find some 3 year olds more mature than a 4 year old, and you might also find some very mature 4 year old children. At early ages, small children are extremely eager to learn new things, and if given an environment conducive to reading, they will be fast learners. So it is up to the parents to provide a safe and fun environment with plenty of interesting books. I bet some probably feel that 4 years of age is perhaps too young to start learning reading. We don't think so. By 4 years old, our children were reading simple chapter books for children, and they absolutely love it.
I would just like to point out here that the whole language (look and say) method of learning to read is a very poor teaching method, and consistently produces poor readers. It is unfortunate that such a teaching method plays a big role in our education system. Studies done by the National Reading Panel (NRP) have stated that their findings show that "Teaching phonemic awareness to children produces better reading results than whole language programs", and "teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instructions that lack attention to phonemic awareness." Not surprisingly, we have discovered for ourselves, through experiences with our own children, that phonemic awareness is the key to helping a child develop exceptional reading skills.
The Differences Between Good and Poor Readers
The fundamentals of teaching children to read is exactly the same, regardless of the age of the child. In fact, I can say that the same approach to learning to read applies to adults as well! What makes one a good and effective reader? Obviously, the more you read, the better you get at reading. Scientific studies done by Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding found that the top 10th percentile of grade 5 students read on average 1.8 million words per year compared to just 8,000 words for the students in the bottom 10th percentile - a multiple difference of 200!
When children learn to read early, they develop truly amazing reading and decoding skills; they develop a vast vocabulary; and they become fast and fluent readers that simply loves to read. On the opposite end, children who are poor readers have difficulties reading, and they fall behind and get discouraged. By ages 4, 5, and 6, most children should at least have had some exposure to print and have some ideas of what the alphabet is, and have some knowledge that the squiggly lines they see represent the language we speak.
However, with a step-by-step, progressive approach to learning reading, young children can learn to read at levels that far exceed their years. They can become exceptionally fast and fluent readers if taught to develop their phonemic awareness abilities. To achieve this, children must be taught the fact that the letters they see represent different sounds, and that these sounds combine together to "say" the words in our language. Through progressive lesson plans, the child learns to manipulate the phonemes (individual sounds of words) to sound out and read complete words, and with ample practice, this process of sounding out and reading (decoding) becomes internalized and becomes sort of a "natural reflex" where they're able to simply look at printed text and know what it says. We have a great step-by-step program that is simple, yet very effective at teaching young children to read.
>> Click here to learn more about how you can effectively teach your child to read