To preface this post, I must say that I was really intimidated to teach Avila how to read. Yes, I am a teacher by trade, but to be honest I didn't really pay attention in my Ed classes where "how to teach reading" was taught. I knew I always wanted to teach older kids and I guess I never took into consideration I would have my own kids someday! Nevertheless, I decided that this was something important for me to know how to do so that I could set a good foundation while my kids were young.
So, when I stumbled across the book "Mommy, Teach Me" and it's companion "Mommy Teach Me to Read" (both by Barbara Curtis and both super cheap on Amazon) I was inspired. As mentioned in previous posts, Barbara was a homeschooling mother of 12 who tapped into her own potential (albeit scary at first...) to teach her children. Her main point is that children want to learn and that you don't have to be an educator, an expert, or even have a clue where to begin to be able to teach them (we just need love and the knowledge that we know our children better than anyone else). Whether your choice of education is private, public, or homeschool she empowers parents to take the lead in their children's education and set a good foundation when they are young by doing anything from simply reading more, to identifying their strengths/weaknesses, to formal activities and teaching.
Like many parents, I started to read to Avila when she was very little. Books were a staple and we never went a day without reading. She knew all the letters of the alphabet (which, come to find out, isn't really important in knowing how to read!) and I wanted to start applying some of the "how to read" steps from Barbara's book. So, about 6 months ago, we played letter-sound games. We would drive and I'd ask Avila, "What starts with 'mmm'?" I would initially get answers like "balloon!" and "daddy!" but then she got the hang of it and would answer "mommy!" and "marshmallow!" I even stole a totally awesome game from Carrie. It goes something like this:
(to the tune of "Who Let the Dogs Out?)
Who let the 'B' out?
buh- buh-buh buh
Who let the 'Y' out?
It's fun to do the reverse, too. Like asking "What does flower start with? What does house start with?" After she knew all the letter-sounds, we started putting sounds together to form words. (All the steps are in the book...) And after sounding out 3-letter words, we moved on to 4 and 5-letter words. And, then, it was on to the BOB Books. (you can find these online, at Costco, or most public libraries)
I must say, I am encouraged! Other than reading books to her, we really only "do reading" for about 5-10 minutes a day. This will increase as time goes on, but for now we keep it fun, push her only as far as she can go without getting discouraged, and, above all, let her experience the joy that is reading.