How to Teach Kids to Read Words

Teaching Children to Read Step by Step

Learning to read begins with vowelsSurprisingly, learning to read begins soon after birth,  when an infant hears spoken language. The more language young children hear, the more the language part of the brain develops. Hearing a variety of words and language patterns, through conversation or by listening to and looking at picture books, promotes development in the “reading centers” of the brain.

Reading Readiness. Next, between the ages of two and four, children are introduced to the alphabet. The English alphabet is made up of 26 letters. Five letters are called vowels, a, e, i, o, and u. (Eventually they learn that w and y sometimes act like vowels.) The other 21 letters are referred to as consonants.

As an aside, for those who are interested, vowels are sounds made with unrestricted air flow through the mouth. Consonants, on the other hand, are sounds made with restricted air flow, usually by the closed lips or by the tongue against the teeth or upper palate. Interestingly, in other languages, even more complex sounds are created than English speakers are accustomed to making.    

Preschool children usually enjoy learning the alphabet because it involves fun activities like singing the ABC song, pointing to or touching the letters on cards or in games and toys, writing the letters in activity books or playing electronic alphabet games. By doing these activities they learn to recognize and write the 26 letters in the alphabet, in both upper and lower case. [Read more…]

Is Retention the Answer?

Retention not the answer for dylsexia

Holding Kids With Dyslexia Back a Grade is Not the Answer!

Dr Linda argues that retention is never the answer for slow readers. Instead get them the appropriate remedial help.

Dear Dr. Linda,
My mom, who lives in South Carolina, told me she read that her state is planning to improve their educational performance with a new plan to go into effect in 2017.

They’re proposing that any child who’s not reading at a third grade level by the end of third grade will be retained.

I almost choked when I read that.

My son who’s in 8th grade has severe dyslexia. He reads at a third grade level. By the way, he’s also is on the honor roll. If they kept him back because of his reading, he’d still be in third grade!

How can I, and other parents of children who have dyslexia and other learning issues, get through to the people who make these laws? Any advice will help.

Thanks, Alison.

Dear Alison,
Since I haven’t read the article, nor do I know about the new law in South Carolina, it’s difficult to comment on this. However, if that’s mandated by 2017, I hope there’s more to it because [Read more…]

What do Beginner Readers Need?

What do beginner readers need?What do preschoolers, kindergartners and 1st graders love?

Beginning readers play, run around, skip, sing, and imagine. They love learning new things about their world. They’ve got questions, energy, and enthusiasm.

Most, especially if they’re been read to or introduced to books, look forward to reading themselves.

What they don’t have [Read more…]

How to Promote Reading in Your Home

Create a Reading Environment to Help Kids Learn to Read

Dr. Linda explains why a reading environment at home is important and how to promote reading with your children.

Dear Dr. Linda,

Madison’s teacher is telling parents to encourage reading at home. She says she’s not just talking about helping Madison with reading her school book or helping with homework.
Man reading to himself models reading for children.

We do both of these things already. And we read stories to Madison when she was younger.

The teacher recommended creating a reading environment at home. I have no idea what she means. She didn’t explain how to promote reading.

Can you tell us if you think a “reading environment” is a good thing and how to promote reading? Wondering about reading

Dear Wondering about Reading,

I’m assuming the teacher means making sure people in the family read and talk about reading. She’s just didn’t tell you how to promote reading for your kids. She’s probably suggesting [Read more…]

Not Reading in First Grade

Not reading in first grade

Most Children Begin Reading in First Grade. Your Mileage May Vary.

Today’s question comes from a concerned mother who asks Dr. Linda if her son should be reading more and playing less.

Dear Dr. Linda,
Joey is entering first grade and still isn’t reading. All he wants to do is play. Every day this summer I made him take time to read.

I bought him a lot of reading workbooks that said for Grade 1. It’s been a disaster. He won’t do them, ends up crying, and I end up yelling.

I’m really scared that he’s going to have a hard time in school because he won’t be able to read. And, if this isn’t bad enough, my mother-in-law is mad at me because she thinks I shouldn’t be bothering Joey with reading.

She keeps telling me that he should go out and play. How do I convince her that reading is important?

Thanks. Valerie [Read more…]

Multisensory Phonics Reading Program

Phonics Help Kids Learn to Read…And Enjoy Learning!

From the mailbag, Dr. Linda Silbert answers a reader’s questions asking if phonics-based reading programs work for a struggling reader.

Struggling readers can benefit from multisensory phonics reading programsDear Dr. Linda:

My daughter has a terrible time with reading. The teacher suggested that I look for materials that use the Orton-Gillingham Method.

Then I talked to another mom whose daughter also had trouble with reading. She said that she’d heard the Wilson Method was good too.

I have no clue about these methods. I’m not a teacher, but I really want to help my daughter with reading. Can you tell me what to do? Do I have to know these methods in order to help my child? Confused Mom

Dear Confused Mom:

You can certainly help your daughter with reading without knowing the Orton-Gillingham Method or the Wilson Method. But before you do anything, first [Read more…]

Teaching ESL Students to Read

Teaching ESL Kids to readWhat Works Best for ESL Children?

Teaching ESL students to read can be a triple challenge. They don’t know English very well. Some can be dyslexic or have other learning challenges. And few of them will hear English spoken at home, much less will parents be able to help.

Although most of us don’t think about it in this way, language is noise. Children learn their native language by organizing this noise into discreet and meaningful sounds.  The sounds makes sense as syllables , words, and sentences.

ESL students who learn English quickly do this easily. Other students struggle with [Read more…]

Kids Who Do Not Like Reading

Kids Start Dropping Out of College in Elementary School

Do you have kids who do not like reading and wondering what to do about it? To find a solution, Dr. Linda suggests finding the reasons they don’t like reading and may be doing poorly in school.

Kids who do not like reading suffer in school their entire livesDear Dr. Linda,
My daughter is going into the 6th grade. She hates to read, and has been labeled dumb and lazy by many of her teachers. In fact, I feel they have given up on her. I don’t think she applies herself well, and I think she’s finally gotten to a point where she doesn’t even care anymore.

What can I do over the summer to help her so the next school year isn’t so emotional for her. I’m afraid she’s becoming depressed. She really is very smart. Mary

Dear Mary,
Every child, teen, and adult wants to get an A+. Everyone wants a gold star. When it doesn’t happen, they may become [Read more…]

History of Tiger Tuesday

How The Million-Selling Little Twirps Morphed Into 21st Century Tiger Tuesday

1970s reading program characters The Little TwirpsLinda and Al Silbert created trademarked Little Twirps characters in 1976. Their leading character was a little boy named, Tiger. Tiger and his siblings lived in charming Twirptown, as the hand crafted creations of Mr. & Mrs. Elias T. Twirp. Making dolls, and the extensive dollhouse village, was the life-long hobby of the Twirp family. Their passion in life, Twirptown was nothing short of a masterpiece.

The Twirp family was not without its share of ups and downs. There was even a time when Twirptown was almost lost forever. Its near demise was due to the greed of a land developer and his powerful and unscrupulous accomplices. Only moments before it was to be bulldozed into extinction, Twirptown was saved by the most amazing chain of events. Miraculously, without any warning, Tiger, the doll that Mr. & Mrs Twirp had just finished, came to life and leaped off of the work table and out of the door. As he ran up and down the streets of Twirptown, everything in this lovely toy village was transformed into a dream come true. All of Twirptown came alive!

The subsequent adventures in Twirptown are the basis of eight storybooks (1977) and an unlimited number of humorous and heartwarming episodes. [Read more…]

Teaching ADHD Kids to Read

Tiger Tuesday teaching  ADHD children to readAre Your ADHD Kids Too Fidgety to Read?

Kids who have ADHD often have a hard time sitting still. Not to mention doing the same boring thing over and over again.

Instead of insisting that they sit still, try strategies that encourage moving. Instead of boring worksheets, try games.

Helping ADHD kids with reading proficiency often requires flexibility and creativity on the part of reading specialists, teachers and parents. Teaching ADHD kids to read can be [Read more…]

Phonics Centered — Consistent with Orton-Gillingham — Multisensory