Learning to Read

Enthusiastically facilitated by Christel, 5/10/2009.

Read, Read, Read to your children!

Books on cd/tape are great for younger 'readers'.


These are online audio books from the Co-ordinators stash:
http://www.learnoutloud.com/Free-Audio-Video#directory http://www.freechristianaudiobooks.com/


Get your child to tell you a story and you write it down for them in their 'Brag Book'. The idea being that the child has the opportunity to share this story with the family/people they meet. As they know the story they can read it a lot better. The don't need to draw the illustrations necessarily, you could use a photograph or none at all.


Keep a log of the books your child(ren) read – a list or a fancy page or even by simply keeping the library chits. (Offer rewards if you like).

Alongside this you may also like to use http://www.bookadventure.org/ which is a site that has quizzes that children can take per book and earn credits.

Another idea for 'recording' is to have the child(ren) fill one of a variety of different (age-relevant) worksheets. At the younger levels this may simply be them drawing a picture and you writing in the title, author and date. The next step up may be them writing the title and author etc etc. Remember though that unless you are focusing on writing skills at the same time – this is about reading.

Here are some book report templates to get you started

Ask your child(ren) about where you were up to in the book 'yesterday', as if you couldn't remember.
Stop the story and ask the child(ren) what they think will happen next.


Get children to verbally describe ordinary objects, people, places and things during the day – this gets them visualising them, and more easily able to draw upon that when reading a story.


If your child is reading out loud for enjoyment, in particular, use your finger or a pen (above the words on the page) to move along the words, and if they stumble – give them the word and let them carry on, especially if it is not a word they will come across again for a while. This isn't 'cheating' – it is making sure your child has plenty of experience without the fear of failure or of that stumbling block becoming a mountain.


This is an idea for using with words a child does not understand during the process of reading.


Write up the words the child does not know from their reading. Or if you have the time, read ahead in the story, and make a list of words that you think the child may not understand. Show them the list prior to reading the chapter, ask them to put a star or smiley face beside the ones they think they know. Let them tell you what the meanings are. Don't correct them at this point. Read the chapter, and then stop and ask the child when the word comes up if they thought that's what it meant. Look them up in the dictionary to confirm. For the ones that they did not know add the word to the word wall . An extension to this would be to write the meanings on cards yourself and get the child to match up their words with the correct meanings, at another time. Expanding a child's vocabulary helps with reading. With older children ( 9+) challenge them to come up with three new words a week. Find the meaning, a synonym, an antonym and use the word. This “Reading and Spelling Web Sheet” will give you a start.


One of the ways that you can re-enforce blends, an essential part of phonics, is to make up nonsense words. Christel showed us a resource called “WORDSPELL T 995”. The idea being that you place end blends cards on the grid of front blend cards and the child reads them out, telling you whether it is a real or made-up word.

Jolly Phonics Teachers Handbook also has a beginning and end blend wheel. And here is another permutation of the idea:

The benefit of the nonsense word approach is that a child can not rely on sight reading, and must sound out what they see.

Write or print the sound on one side, and on the other the sound, a related picture and word. Show them the first side – get them to sound the sound and tell you what word it is used in (as per the back).


Christel whole-heartedly recommends a New Zealand book, titled “Reading and Spelling Made Simple” by Mary Andrew. An insert to this book is an image of a tree on which are the various progressions and areas of mastery that Mary's programmes takes a child through along the path to reading are listed. This can be used as a visual record for both child and parent. For example the rungs of the ladder leaning against the tree are (1) letter sounds, (2) 3 letter words, (3) consonant blend, (4) ch sh th wh etc etc The other emphatic recommendation, from the other side of the bench, is for Jolly Phonics Teachers Handbook. Take your pick!


There are lists of words on various sites online that can help you discern your child's reading age, if you feel you'd like to know. Other sites offer printable 'bench-marking' books that are rated using different scales. You print out a book or two according to your child's age or anticipated reading level, give them the easier to read, and progress upwards to the next, stopping at the one where a child is stumbling over words. The last book they read fluently can be noted for its word count, level (and scale) etc. Or alternatively if you have reading-related questions, Christel is a trained teacher, SPELD assessor and tutor. She is only too happy to test children to give homeschooling parents an idea of where they are at.


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.
Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves,"
New York Times, 7 August 1991