We have felt completely overwhelmed at times about finding the right way to teach Elijah how to read. He worked with a tutor at Gigi’s Playhouse and we were taught some great techniques to use to get him started, but we just weren’t sure how to put it all together. I was putting random activities together that definitely seemed to help, but it wasn’t a well developed plan. We have both been teachers for about 20 years, so it didn’t sit well with us not to have a strategy in place.
Initially we felt like we were going to have to develop special strategies for him and take a different approach with Payton. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case. Elijah’s tutor told us to work on identifying 100 words that have meaning to him, so I made a bunch of flash cards to matched with pictures and words…BIG HIT! I found a bunch of ideas on Pinterest for easy access, quick activities that kids can do independently. I laminated EVERYTHING so it was (almost) indestructible, put groups of flash cards in zipper pouches, and boxes of cards on the table, so they could grab an activity anytime they needed something to do. They both knew their alphabet so we took that to the next level and worked on the sounds each letter makes. The next step was giving them a few words (first with the picture and eventually just the word) and have them make the sound of the first letter so they started to understand it had meaning. We use alphabet puzzles (link found below) to help them slow down and really look for the word that starts with each letter or the word that matches the picture. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it has been AMAZING to see Elijah’s word identification take off. He can identify 20 words without the pictures and needs little help sounding out the first letter.
They both love matching so matching pictures was a fist step and then matching word to word was next. This really helped Elijah look at the word more closely. Payton is 2 years old and has just started working on sounds of letters and matching, but she has also started looking at books with more intention. She has memorized parts of books and can remember what page has her favorite parts. She flips through the books reciting her favorite pages.
Reading to them constantly throughout the day has also been a great tool. They definitely have their favorite books, and we read them multiple times a day, but we have always made sure we have routine times in the day that we read together. As they’ve gotten older, looking at books independently is one of their favorite things to do…along with taking every book off the shelf and spreading them around the living room.
Teaching them how to read is a journey and we are using a lot of trial and error, but thankfully none of the things we try are going to hurt. They just may not be the perfect fit. Every kid is so different and every day is different. We’re just following their lead and trying to meet them where they are and hopefully they’ll continue making progress good progress.
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