Select a story your non-reader or struggling reader really, really likes. Then:
1. Choose a short-vowel word that comes up several times in the story, like can, or pet or cat or if or ___. It’s your call. Or let the child pick! <—I like this idea! Nouns may be easier at first.
2. On a 4×6 notecard*, write the word with a brightly colored marker or whatever you have on hand. Color has been shown to help.
3. Show the word to your child, and quickly point out the sounds the letters in the word make, and what it says. Spend no more than a few seconds, or it will be lesson-ish! Avoid that like the plague—this is a book your kid still enjoys. Let’s keep it that way!
4. Ask your child if she wants to draw a hint for herself on the card or on the back of card. Don’t insist if she doesn’t. (Next time she’ll probably see the wisdom of doing so!)
The pictures my students draw often baffle me, but sure enough, they have a connection in their mind to the word, so I just accept happily and smile.
5. Use your finger to point to the words you’re reading. With your child holding the card, pause when you come to her word, point to it, and ask your child to “read” her word. If she can’t remember what it says, just remind her cheerfully. Remember, this is a just beginning step. We want it light-hearted and fun!
6. If she “reads” it correctly a few times, celebrate afterwards! Tell grandma! Have her “read” a sentence to someone on the phone! This really is actual reading: she sees the letters on the card and matches them to the letters on the page. Good for both of you!
6. Repeat similar activity another day, and go over the words she’s read previously in a quick, painless review.
Many parents find this to be a fun and effective way to give their child a successful reading experience.
Use the same word again in this book or others, whenever you wish, but continue to add different words as well. Soon your child may be able to handle two cards at a time, or even come to recognize the word on its own. And so on and so on and so on—we hope. ?
If not, there are many more tips coming for things to try.
Let me know if it works—or if it doesn’t!—for you. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have here in the comments below.
*Notecards are suggested only because they can be reused for a longer time. Paper will work just as well.
Note: My tutoring and my free program will probably not help a child who is profoundly disabled. I do help kids with learning disabilities, dyslexia, mild Down’s Syndrome, dysgraphia, and many other kids who struggle to learn reading for various other reasons.
Many kids just “miss a little something” the first time around, and that stops them from going further. What seems like an overwhelming failure is just something that is missing, and is easy to teach again, using my very different style of teaching.
If your child needs help, do try to find it! If you can’t afford my rates, don’t stop looking.
And keep an eye out for my upcoming VERY inexpensive reading program.