In our first post on helping your homeschooler learn to read, we looked at some useful ways parents can help their child take their first steps towards learning to read.
In addition to reading to your child regularly, drawing their attention to words, and understanding the learning to read process, there are many pre-reading activities that homeschoolers can implement regularly to give their child the best chance at achieving reading success.
In our second post for ‘Helping Your Homeschooler Learn to Read’, we look at some fun and easy activities you can start now that will help your homeschooler develop the early reading skills they need to learn to read and enjoy doing it.
Phonics is a vital part of learning to read, and refers to a method of instruction that helps children recognize the link between letters and sounds. Children who are unable to link letters to the sounds they make can have a difficult time learning to read. One of the best ways for homeschoolers to begin learning phonics is through playing phonics games and activities that make the learning process fun and engaging. Games like Letter Races, I Spy the Sound, Matching Rhymes and Phonics Hopscotch are all great ways to help your child learn the early phonics skills they need to learn to read.
Acquiring sight words is an important part of learning to read. With over 200 in the English language, sight words are the words that appear most frequently in reading – words like ‘and’, ‘is’, ‘at’, ‘I’ and so on.
Children learn through repetition and reinforcement, so as your child learns a new sight word, write the word in large print on a piece of paper and hang it up where they are likely to see it often. Every time they see the poster, it will reinforce their memory and it can also be used as a handy reference point when reading with your child. Some fun sight word activities also include doing word hunts and writing words in different materials (e.g. clay, shaving cream, play-dough, writing in the sand, using magnetic letters).
Flashcards are a popular option for homeschoolers and educators, particularly in developing the skills needed to learn to read. Since young learners benefit from repetition, flashcards are a great way to help your child reinforce phonics, sight words, spelling words and vocabulary words. It’s easy to create your own flashcards using index cards and a marker. You can also make a fun game of it. For example, if you create a deck of flashcards with sight words on them – words like ‘is’, ‘the’, ‘it’, ‘and’ etc., make sure you create two of every word so you can play everyone’s favorite card game – Snap!
Nursery rhymes help children understand that sounds in our language have meaning and follow certain patterns. Their natural rhythm and rhyme makes them enjoyable to read and easy to learn by heart. Nursery rhymes feature a lot of repetition, which also makes remembering key sounds, words, lines and verses easier. Have fun reading and reciting songs and nursery rhymes together, and exaggerate the rhyming words to highlight the different sounds in each word.
A fun way to help your child learn important decoding skills is by playing with rimes and onsets. A rime refers to the string of letters that follow an onset, which is the first phonological unit of any word. You can play with rimes and onsets by cutting out pieces of cards and writing a phoneme on each one, for example, b c f p r s m and h. Write the letters at on a separate piece of paper. Ask your child to look at the rime at and decide if they have a phoneme that would correctly complete the word (e.g. b + at = bat).
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