Learning to read

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Learning to read is the acquisition and practice of the skills necessary to understand the meaning behind printed words. For a fairly good reader, the skill of reading often feels simple, effortless, and automatic; however, the process of learning to read is complex and builds on cognitive, linguistic, and social skills developed from a very early age.

There is much academic debate about how and the best way that children learn to read but this article assumes that parents have chosen a good school and that they support that educational process in giving their child a rich and varied learning environment.

The two most influential “learning to read” methods.

The two most common teaching methods are “Phonics” and “Whole book reading”. Both have a lot of merit and in reality it is probably impossible not to use both when teaching a child to read.

Phonics is the system where the letters represent sounds. C is for cat, T is for tree, B is for boy etc. A word like cat is broken down into it’s sounds like – (C) “kuh” (A) “a” (T) “tuh” and then sounded out loud until it becomes a whole word.  Phonetics only works with languages with an alphabet, like English or Arabic where letters can represent sounds.

Whole book learning is where the child is expected to just read books and slowly recognize the patterns and words therein. 

In reality some words do not fit into a phonetic form easily like “xylophone” and the child must just learn them but on the whole phonetics is a great tool for helping children to learn and sound out new words.

A rich learning environment

Hopefully your child’s school will have a good ethos and learning system. A parent’s job then is to make sure the child is surrounded by words and pictures that they can explore and find reading for themselves

  • Surround your child with interesting books full of pictures so that they can work out part of the story themselves.
  • Encourage your child to read signs and other words around them so that they understand writing is everywhere.
  • Read to your child regularly – let them hold and touch the books asking questions and exploring the books with you.

Reading is an essential skill in the modern world. Share your love of learning with your child so that they may grow up equipped for modern life.