Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5 Tips: Teaching Children to Read Naturally

Easy Inexpensive Ways to Teach Reading

Please don't be stressed that your preschooler isn't reading! Of course, it is wonderful to share books with your child and for them to see you reading. Your enthusiasm for books is contagious and extremely helpful for children to develop a curiosity and love of books. But they may not be ready to focus on the letters, or be interested in flashcards, or expensive phonics' programs. Let them be children, learning with their five senses and movement, and they will learn naturally with some easy inexpensive involvement and encouragement. 

When my grandson went grocery shopping with his mom, he pointed and yelled, "K-R-O-G-E-R. That spells grocery store!" He didn't know the name of the store, but knew those letters symbolized groceries. Be excited when children notice and recognize letters and words. 


  • Begin early reading books to your child. It is never too early to read to a child. Even small babies find pleasure in language. They enjoy being sung and read to, and they like it when you tell them stories and rhymes. They enjoy sitting on your lap or snuggling while sharing the bonding experience. 
  • Read together every day possible.  I recommend three or more books a day. They should be exposed to books that rhyme, beginner's reading books with just a few words on each page, non-fiction or science books with wonderful photos, nursery rhymes, songs, and traditional and modern stories. But the main point is that they are interested in the book, so expose them to a variety and read the same one over and over if that is what they enjoy. Memorization is a beginning step to reading.
  • Share a love of reading. Use animated facial expressions and voice when you read to children. Let them see you reading books, magazines, shopping lists, electronic gadgets, and signs. We are surrounded by words in our environment. Point to signs and make it a game (what letters do you see?). The first words they may recognize are their name, stop from a stop sign, or a sign in front of a store or fast-food place that you frequent.
Children love to participate and experience books by touching,
listening, repeating words, or filling in rhyming words.
  • Buying a phonics program is not necessary.  Buy or make an alphabet book with relevant pictures and emphasize the first letter of words - drawing out the sound as you point to the letter. Keep encouraging your child until they comprehend that letters have sounds (phonics), sounds blended form words, and they recognize some sight words.
  • The 5 Rs of Reading are Relevancy, Repetition, Rhythm, Rhyme and Routine. Go on a Scavenger Hunt and have your child cross off words as they find favorite objects. Borrow library books, buy books cheaply at garage sales, or make your own. Free beginning reading books that children can color are listed on my sidebar. Children love their name, so teach them how to read and write those letters. Teaching the most frequently used letters first, rather than teaching from the letter A through Z, increases relevancy and interest - and words can be learned more quickly (fat, cat, rat, sat, hat, mat...). Establish a reading routine at bedtime and you will cherish the bonding time.
Scavenger Hunt Ideas on hands on as we grow
If you, or your child, are too tired, ill, or stressed, do not make it a power struggle to have reading time. It needs to be enjoyable, relaxing, fun, and of interest to the child. Turn off the gadgets and just enjoy one-on-one focused time with your child, listening and answering their many questions, and extending their comments as you increase their vocabulary. This simple routine time will save you money on therapy when they are teenagers and prefer peer time.
The gift of reading continues throughout a lifetime. Parents, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, babysitters and teachers can be a part of wrapping a huge beautiful gift that when opened will unleash a lifetime of learning. Something about everything can be learned from reading. It is inspiring to know of people who were denied an education, but given the opportunity they learned to read in their senior years. The desire to read is phenomenal and is not quenched until achieved.

There is more treasure in books than in all the
pirate's loot on Treasure Island.
~Walt Disney

Would you like more ideas to prepare your child for school? The Happy Mommy Handbook is filled with ideas for creative playful learning and the child development theories behind them as told from a mom and teacher's perspective. Glimpse into kindergarten with my book: Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents. Both are bestsellers and the ebooks are only $3.99. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

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What ideas do you have to help a child learn to read?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Rip Up Recess Rules and Reap the Benefits

Losing Recess Rules Results in Drop in Bullying and Higher Academics

No recess rules?! Does this sound astonishing to you? A school in New Zealand has ripped up the recess rules and now has a drop in bullying, serious injuries, and vandalism while creativity and learning are increasing - and behavior problems disappearing. Could this happen in the United States? You simply must watch this video where students are climbing trees, riding skateboards, playing bullrush (a tag and tackle game), playing with sticks, and having mudslides! Just click on Bullrush Returns to Schools to view, but I hope you will come back here to read my section: The Benefits of Relaxing Recess Rules.

How did this happen that school recess rules were done away with completely? Swanson Primary School was one of eight schools that decided to participate in a study by Aucland University of Technology (AUT) and Otago University. The aim of the two year study was to encourage active play. But Swanson Primary decided to do away with the rules entirely, as the principal and some teachers were inspired remembering their childhood free play. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Outdoor Play: Games & Benefits with 100+ Kid Bloggers' Hop

Play Outside: 100 Days of Play Blog Hop
Groovy Soaker Water Balloons fit easily under a spout for filling.
Learning to play outdoor games uses creativity, imagination, cooperation, and brain power by making up new games and participating in sports and games that have been around for decades. Playing outside games can teach a child social skills while releasing stress and forming friendships. Young children learn by using their five senses and movement. So much more can be experienced through the senses when outdoors while expanding a child's imagination. Even short periods in the natural world improve a child's mood and appreciation for our earth.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Keep Kids Creative: School's Out KBN Series

Creative Kids: Fostering Creativity in Children

All of us have an innate desire to be creative. Children learn through play, discovery and exploration. They want to naturally extend learning activities, manipulate and create. But through time, discouragement, lack of opportunity and too much screen time, we lose our drive to be creative and lack the confidence and focus. How often do you think, or hear someone say, "Kids can't think for themselves anymore." Let's provide amble opportunities for children to think, explore, extend and create. Here's why and how:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Graham Cracker Kid" & More on Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

Graham Cracker Kid & More picture book giveaways for Kid Lit Blog Hop

I'm very pleased to be donating 7 books (4 autographed) for The Kid Lit Giveaway Hop! It is open May 13 to 19th, 2013 in honor  of Children’s Book Week and hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews, Youth Literature Reviews and others. Over 90 children’s book or teen literature bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists are giving away copies of fabulous books, gift cards, cash, or other prizes. What better way to celebrate Children’s Book Week than GIVEAWAYS! Here is what I am offering to a lucky winner in the US or Canada: 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teach Kids to Tie Bows and Make a Beautiful Wreath

Upcycle Materials to Teach Kids How to Tie Bows & Make Wreath & StartWrite
Are you trying to teach a child to tie their shoes? Here is a fun way for children to practiced tying bows while making a wreath from material scraps. Children will feel a sense of accomplishment as they tie long strands of material around a wreath circle. Or you can make a wire circle using a coat hanger. My grandson Brody made a wreath using wire that held a bail of straw together to make an upcycled gift that cost nothing - and helped him learn to tie bows. What a great gift to a mom or teacher - learning how to tie shoes!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Planting Seeds of Science: Gardening with Kids

Gardening with Kids: Planting Seeds of Science
"This roly poly is tiggling me."
Gardening provides magical opportunities for children to learn through hands-on science as they explore the outdoors and watch a seed grow into food. They can learn about the life cycles of seeds and critters, how to respect our environment, the seasons, weather and much more.