As a teacher I was always encouraging parents to read with their children. ‘Just 10 minutes a day’ I’d tell them, and I did genuinely believe that this would make a difference. But if I’d realised how much of a difference, then I would have shouted it from the roof tops.
When Little Miss came home, she had already spent a year in a Reception class, but somehow had managed not to learn any of her sounds or recognition of letters. This meant that Year 1 was now a huge slog for her. She couldn’t even begin to read anything the teacher wanted and her writing was still at the emergent stage. Every day was such a battle for her, along with everything else (social, emotional etc), that I knew I needed to do something to help her – so we started reading together for 10 minutes a day.
Even though I’d taught for 10 years, I had never really taught a complete beginner reader, so it was new to both of us, but within a few weeks we seem to have it down pat. We began with some basic sounds and letters – really easy to sound out cvc (consonant, vowel, consonant) words like cat, dog, hat etc. My only gripe was finding books which were of any interest to Little Miss which contained the words I wanted – so often we’d read a simple book together and I’d read the words she couldn’t, demonstrating how to sound the word out, whilst encouraging her to read the words I knew she could read. Within a few weeks, she was able to sound out several words and we were able to move on to different words. It was incredible to watch!
Once Little Miss had discovered reading, there was almost no stopping her. Everywhere we went she wanted to read the signs, figure out what was on menus and read instructions about anything and everything. Even though it’s obvious now, we realised that we were surrounded by opportunities to learn to read – and we took every chance we could.
Almost an academic year later, Little Miss can read quite complicated books and is able to recognise most of the ‘tricky’ words such as ‘was’, ‘where’ and ‘all’, she can make some inferences about what is happening in the story, and is beginning to take a lot of enjoyment from reading. Quite often we’ll now find her curled up in bed, reading to herself. A real love of reading is definitely developing and it’s a joy to watch.
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