Monday, 7 September 2015

Teaching Doll to read, my journey

I know plenty of Singaporean parents are eager to start their young children to read. So, I will be doing a recap on how I started on Doll. 
But a word of caution, don't be too caught up with it and stress yourself or your child. Remember this, they will eventually learn to read- it doesn't matter how fast or slowly they get there.
However, I believe in exposing the children to read at a very young age. I believe it is possible for even toddlers to recognise simple words. All they need is exposure. Just remember the rule, don't push it. Only go on if your child is ready AND willing to learn.
Doll was definitely ready to learn. When I started her at 2 years old, she could recognise the words I taught her. I started her on reading by sight. I made printables and did activities with her some of them were:
This was one of the printable I made for her to recap what I taught her. I wrote about it here.
Getting her to fix up this 3 letter-word puzzles
(This puzzle can be found in Popular book stores)
Matching objects to the word cards. You can read more about it here.
LeapFrog: Letter Factory
Another thing I did was to let her watch Leapfrog's Letter Factory. It comes highly recommended not just by me but many other parents. I let Doll watch this and she picked up not only the letter sounds but also the alphabets. And that was it, my job was done in teaching her letter sounds, HA!
I love this DVD because the songs are super catchy and it gives superb visual aids to help the child remember the letter sounds. For instance, to help the child remember that 'c' makes it sound, they designed 'c' looking very very c-c-c-c-cold. Sure way for kids to remember!
I continued to teach her to read by sight by making her match printables like these. As she matched the cards, she learnt to recognise each of the words. By the way, I have put this printable for anyone to download. Just click on 'free printable' at the top of the page and select 'weather'. You can also read about this here.
As she picked up more words, I slowly got her to read very simple sentences. I also needed her to understand what she was reading. That's why I did activities like the above to make sure she knows exactly what she is reading.
With all the words she learnt at home, it was enough for her read simple sentences. You can read about it here. By now, she has already turned 3.
Somehow, in between, I became complacent and weary that I sort of slacked for a quite some time. When I was jolted back to this, I tried many ways to speed up her reading vocabulary.
I frantically purchased guided readers like these hoping I could use it as a 'textbook'.
 I even made word cards extracted from the books. Unfortunately, I was lackadaisical and lazed off again. So we didn't see much progress for a while. Also because she started school this year, I had lesser time with her. While I could plan the activities for her, I simply couldn't squeeze in time to teach her. So this year, at 4 years old, we got derailed from our tracks.
I dabbled a little on phonics. Beginning with 'at' words (because she could read the word 'at'). She did beautifully but I stopped there. So for the entire year we did little.
But, we are fortunate that Doll's kindergarten is doing a great job teaching the kids to read. Although, I don't think the children are expected to actually read, the kids do pick up a few words here and there.
By now, I am eager for doll pick up more vocabulary and at a faster pace. I continued to make her read by sight. And yes, I bought another set of readers.
I taught her by the only way I know how- by sight. However, I felt that it was too slow. And she didn't seem to recognise the words as fast as before. She needed a lot more repetition before she can finally remember. 
Moreover, I found out that she could not visually discriminate similar looking words, like 'Monday' and 'monster' both looks the same to her. It got quite a dread doing this because result was slow on top of the limited time we have.  
Until recently, when I saw how my 2 year old nephew could easily read (because of phonics). I turned back to phonics. I never quite believe in phonics. My son and I did away with it so for years , I scorn at the method. But through Doll, I finally see the beauty of phonics.
At first, Doll, struggled with it and again it confirmed my disdain for it. However, after a few tries, she finally managed to breakthrough decoding the words. And when she did, I was blown away by the number of words she could suddenly read! And I didn't have to repeat and repeat and repeat to her like before.
And just like that her reading vocabulary went up by a notch.
While I finally accept phonics, I still believe in sight reading. Many words cannot be decoded phonetically. So, now, I am still teaching her to read by sight but also by phonics.
And this was my arduous journey with her.
Of course, different folks, different strokes. Some kids can simply pick up reading just through read a louds like my son. Parents of these kids have it easy! I had half of it easy....
If you are teaching or thinking of teaching your child to read, remember:
Enjoy the process, don't be stress! 

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