Dr. V.S. Gayathri
Exploring Reading With The Beginning Readers
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller
You must be well-acquainted with this popular saying. As a parent, if you also believe in this then you should start inculcating the habit of reading in your child from an early age. As we have mentioned in our earlier articles, reading to your child should start right from birth or at least from the age of 3 months. Today we are here to discuss how to help beginning readers with reading so that their fundamental base is strong and they eventually convert into fluent readers.
Research in early childhood development has already spoken about the manifold benefits of learning to read early in life. Let us first understand how young kids start reading.
In their first year, babies hear speech as distinct but meaningless words. By one year, most children begin linking words to meaning. They start understanding the names used to label familiar objects, body parts, animals, and people. They simplify the process of learning these labels by making basic assumptions. For example, labels refer to classes of things rather than individual items like Doggie is the word for all four-legged animals.
As they grow and start developing their language skills, they give up these assumptions and learn new words and meanings.
Did you know?
At about 18 months, children tend to add new words to their vocabulary at the astounding rate of one every 2 hours.
By 2 years, most children have 1 to 2,000 words and combine two words to form simple sentences such as: "Go out." "All gone."
Between 24 to 30 months, they start speaking in longer sentences.
From 30 to 36 months, children begin following the rules for expressing tense and numbers, and also use simple words such as some, would, and who.
Now that we have understood the fast rate at which kids tend to learn from an early age, it is important to nurture and channelize this in the right way. Let us take a look at who should be referred to as ‘beginning readers’.
A beginning reader:
can name the letters and tell you how many of their sounds
can understand the concept of a ‘word’
can begin to recognize a few words within text or from a list
can begin to represent the first and sometimes the last sound of a word when they spell
Now, let us explore the ways that can help beginning readers.
Practice- Patience- Practice: This is definitely a pre-requisite for reading with early readers. Practice and Patience go hand in hand because you have to have the patience and give time to your child to understand concepts that are totally new to them. The moment you lose interest, your child will do too.
Five-finger vocabulary check: Choose books with the ‘five-finger rule’. It is a quick and easy way to check if a book is suitable for your child to read on their own. Before they start, ask them to turn to a random page in the book and read it, and for every new word, they should hold up a finger.
Choose books according to kid’s interests: Choose books which are of your child’s interest may be according to their hobbies or animals they like. This will help to generate interest and might facilitate learning at a faster rate.
Vocabulary games: Start with simple vocabulary games like Pictionary or very basic Scrabble of 2 or 3-letters and then move ahead.
Crossword: Crossword is a good way to help them read and learn words as well. Download or make a simple grid for them with easy clues that they should be able to read themselves. This will also help them to learn the meanings of words and know the right fit, as well as correct spellings.
I Spy game with a twist: Play the I Spy games with a twist wherein you can include concepts of Action (I spy something you can eat), Texture (I spy something rough), Senses (I spy something sweet), Distance, Memory, Numbers, and almost anything. This will also help them to get a holistic view of identifying words and their descriptions too.
Word Train: You can use this to help them build, learn and read new words. This will also understand how words are formed with letters and the difference between how some words are pronounced.
Some of the book suggestions that you can try out are:
Lady Bird series: These are designed for children who are read by themselves yet divided into various levels according to age groups. They also have different categories like phonics, grammar, etc.
Dr. Seuss's books: These are highly recommended for early readers. One can try our books like Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, and others.
Bob books: Parents and teachers like these because of their clean layout, short words, and simple phonics which makes reading a fun and natural step for their children.
You can also check out HOMER app which is an early learning program that builds skills for school and life. They include interactive lessons, stories, and activities personalized by skill level, age, and interests.
There are various resources that you can use for exploring and nurturing beginning readers. All you need is a bit of patience and time to work with your child on daily reading to strengthen their basics, identify any problem areas and rectify them as early as possible.
Reading is an essential life skill, so nurture it well early in life!