>Published here with permission from The MOORE FOUNDATION

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

How to Prepare Your Child for the Reading Process
by Ellen Dana

One mother made an important observation on the phone recently. Based on her experience with her three children, she said, "I worried so much about teaching my children to read, but I found out I worried for nothing. You don't need to teach children to read. They learn on their own."

Her statement is true for most children (1) if you are willing to wait for them to mature into their code-breaking reading skills, (2) if no state or local authorities are pressuring you to produce the same-sized "sausage" as the local public school, and/or (3) you have no "concerned" relatives hinting or insisting that it's time to "get down to business" and begin "teaching" your youngster with real schoolbooks.

Many of you fall in one of the above categories. I know, because you call me, or write to me with your concerns. You want to continue a relaxed, real "home-school" schedule like the Moores (and I) recommend, but you're not sure how to do that and still please authorities, your relatives, or your neighbors. Here is a brief outline of what you can do:

1. Realize that when you read to your child, you may and should count this as a reading lesson. This is especially so when you ask comprehension and analytical questions, the kind that say, "How do you think...?" or "What would you...?"

2. Use a small portion of your family worship period or storytime for memorizing Scripture. Even the babies should be with the family, hearing everyone recite the Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer, John 14:1-3 and other precious promises. They will be able to say them as soon as they can talk. How thrilled your beginning reader will be to "read" one of these verses someday, aided by his memory of what word comes next!

3. Play phonics games with little children as soon as they show an interest or to awaken an interest. Game Way to Phonics and Reading, our new phonics program is designed to do just that! Even 4- and 5-year-olds will respond to these exciting activities, many of them active games using a big ball or a rebounder. Other games are found in Help Your Child learn to Read, and The Beginner's Three R's by Ruth Beechick. Keep it active, short, and fun. This is neither "formal" nor stressful. Document these games as phonics "class," but please don't call these "lessons," or "phonics class," to your child.

4. Use the Bible as your child's first reader, praying for the Holy Spirit's blessing. For the many children who need to be eased into reading, I have written Shared Reader-Psalms. This unique first reader allows you to carry the burden of the reading while training you to include your child in the reading process a little at a time. Each of the ten lessons include:

  • A review or introduction to the vowel sounds (the more difficult short sounds first) in selected words from a particular Psalm.
  • A short vocabulary lesson so your student will understand the Psalm and what it is designed to teach.
  • A spelling lesson on the newly introduced words.
  • A comprehension strategy taught from this Psalm.
  • The Psalm that you will now read together -- your student reading these pre-taught words, printed bigger and bolder, while you read all the rest.

All lessons tell you exactly what to say and do. Remember that once you are guided through these exercises you will know how to use this same strategy with other reading material. Best of all, you can use this with any other phonics or reading material.

I wrote Shared Reader-Psalms for you. It is a first reader, a Bible book, and phonics lessons all in one. Use it as slowly or as quickly as you wish. Whatever you do, remember that these techniques, games, and teaching aids are designed to help you use quality teaching techniques with your child, techniques you can use over and over. While you're using Shared Reader-Psalms, remember that nothing, not even the best books we can write, will substitute for the most important helper of all -- TIME! Give your child plenty of it!

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