Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Reading library books

Reading is a huge part of our everyday life here so why haven't I blogged about it before? Maybe it's because reading doesn't provide a wealth of lovely photos, or is it that reading is so everyday its taken for granted? Reading to us is as natural as breathing, as routine as brushing our teeth. So how do I teach reading? What do we read? How does reading fit into other home school subjects?

Firstly, and most importantly, if you want your child to love reading for themselves you need to start by enjoying books together. As early as possible. Even as babies the children loved books and we introduced bedtime stories when R was around 6 months old. We still have a picture book each before bed and, for R (who is older), a chapter from a longer novel too. We have always been members of the library and even as babies the children enjoyed visiting for bounce and rhyme time and story time.

So when should you start teaching children to read? Well I believe this should be when they express a desire to do so, after all it is very difficult to teach anyone something that they are not interested in. As long as you continue to share books children will eventually be motivated to read for themselves. R is very gifted in his reading ability, whilst L follows a more typical development. R became interested in letters at around 18 months old and begged me for an alphabet puzzle which I (stupidly) thought would be too difficult for him. He used this puzzle to very quickly learn the letter names and sounds. Next we moved onto using the Jolly Phonics materials. These are all available on Amazon and you'll find the teachers handbook and the finger phonics books the most useful. I also made sandpaper letters for the children to feel. By age 2 R was reading! I have used the jolly phonics readers but I have found that the children prefer the Oxford reading tree books. L has learnt all the sounds and can blend simple words and she knows many tricky words too. She is reading level 1 books. L works on phonics and tricky words (those that cannot be sounded out) every day. Both children also read aloud to Dad or me every day. R reads short novels from the library or his favourite Beastquest books.

There is also lots of independent reading going on whenever there is an opportunity. The children know that I'm not very friendly if woken too early so they will often creep out of their rooms to read books from our library. R is currently independently reading through the Harry Potter series. L just gets out her favourite books to "read" looking through all the pictures. Throughout the day the children go off to read often.

R in our library

We visit the public library once every week. The librarians kindly gave me a teacher's card so we can get out 50 books between us, and yes we often do! At the library I ask the children to choose some books related to our current topics for the week, this will form the basis for assigned reading during the week. The children also get out many picture books and short novels. R is currently working his way through the collection of Superman and Batman books. Once they have chosen their books they usually sit and read them in the library until, after about an hour, I demand we leave. I keep the library books downstairs well away from our own books to avoid having to search for them every week.

Every day R has assigned reading time. I give him some pages, or a whole book, or a few short books to read based around our history, science and art topics for that week. This is working really well and ensures that the library books actually get read. It also frees me up to work 1 to 1 with L. In addition to independent topic reading the children both listen together to me read from our spine books for history and science. We are using the Story Of The World series and the MrQ science textbook. The children then narrate back what they have learnt and I record this for them in their topic books. We also often read together from our library books.

Assigned reading about Picasso

I would actually like to have more time for reading. I'm currently planning to snatch a bit more time for reading when we are on the train, in the car or waiting for appointments. If I know R he will be reading a book any time he can!

Reading the dictionary cover to cover!

Use the side bar to click on "English" to find out even more about reading, spelling and writing.

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