Tuesday, August 28, 2012

3 Tips to Teach Your Child How to Read

Learning to read at a young age is important for the development of children. It helps them develop a better understanding of their surroundings, allows them to gather information from printed materials, and provides them with a wonderful source of entertainment when they read stories and rhymes. Children develop at different rates, and some children will develop reading skills quicker than other children; however, what's important is that as the parent, you are keenly aware of your child's maturity and reading level to provide him with appropriate books and activities to help him improve.
As a parent, you are the most important teacher for your children. You will introduce them to books and reading. Here are some tips to help you teach your child to read.

Teach Your Child How to Read Tip #1
Teach your child alphabet letters and sounds at the same time. Studies have shown that children learn best when they are taught the letter names and letter sounds at the same time. In one study, 58 preschool children were randomly assigned to receive instructions in letter names and sounds, letter sound only, or numbers (control group). The results of this study are consistent with past research results in that it found children receiving letter name and sound instruction were most likely to learn the sounds of letters whose names included cues to their sounds. [1]

When teaching your child the letter sounds, have her slowly trace the letter, while saying the sound of the letter at the same time. For example, if you were teaching your child the letter "A", you would say:

"The letter A makes the /A/ (ah) sound."
Then have your child say the /A/ sound while tracing the letter with his or her index finger.

Teaching a Child How to Read Tip #2
When teaching your child to read, always emphasize with her that the proper reading order should be from left to right, and top to bottom. To adults, this may seem so basic that anyone should know it. However, our children are not born with the knowledge that printed text should be read from left to right and top to bottom, and this is why you'll sometimes see children reading from right to left instead - because they were never explicitly taught to read from left to right. When teaching your child how to read, always emphasize this point with her.

Teach Your Child How to Read Tip #3
Teach final consonant blends first. Teaching words such "at" and "and" can lead your child directly to learning words that rhyme with these. For example, for "at", you can have:

For "and", you can have these rhyming words:
and so on...

You can start teaching blends once your child has learned the sounds of some consonants and short vowel sounds. You don't need to wait until your child has mastered the sounds of all the letters before teaching blends. 

Learning to read is a long process, but it doesn't have to be a difficult process. Broken down into intuitive and logical steps, a child as young as two years old can learn to read, and older children can accomplish even more.

1. J Exp Child Psychol. 2010 Apr;105(4):324-44. Epub 2010 Jan 25.
Learning letter names and sounds: effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill. 
Piasta SB, Wagner RK.
Preschool Language and Literacy Lab, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Georgia Aquarium Review

Recently I traveled back home to Atlanta, where we made our first visit to the Georgia Aquarium. If you are planning a visit to the aquarium, I highly suggest purchasing your tickets online and printing them at home. This prevents you from standing in line once you get there. The line wasn't long when we arrived at 10 am, but there were tapes up where a line would go, and as the day went on, it got more crowded, so I bet those lines were pretty long. We went after school was back in, so I think it's probably more crowded in the summer and weekends as well.

My children and I loved the aquarium. We had just gotten back from visiting Clearwater and St. Petersburg beaches in Florida, so they were excited to see all the fish, dolphins, penguins, etc. Even the frogs were cool! The 3D show with Deepo was great. Only 15 minutes long, but a great little cartoon about taking care of our oceans. Our favorite part, however, was the Dolphin Tales show. Currently, it is included in your entrance fee, but that may change. I'm really glad it was included, because I may have balked at it if it was an additional fee. It is like the old Sea World dolphin show on steroids. It is only about 30 minutes long, but it's amazing. You will see a story being told, singing, dolphin tricks, light and sound affects... it is a MUST SEE! One thing that I wish I'd known about before we went to the aquarium is that you can buy a book about the aquarium that has pictures of everything I had just tried to take pictures of! The book was on sale for $14.99 and I think the regular price was $19.99. I found it after we exited the Dolphin Tales show and I'm pretty sure it's in the other gift shops as well. It's a great souvenir, especially if you don't have a good camera to take your own pictures and/or don't feel like taking a lot of pictures.

One of the things that I paid close attention to was how much evolutionary information was provided. I did not read every piece of info on every creature displayed, but I did not see any at all. The aquarium is more devoted to caring for the animals rather than relaying the history of the animals. So if you are a Christian family concerned about evolution being jammed down your throats, you don't have to be when it comes to the Georgia Aquarium. You will learn a lot about various sea life, and even get to touch some, too.

Overall, the Georgia Aquarium is a hit. We spent six hours there and except for a lunch break and waiting for shows to start, we spent the entire time in exhibits. It was time well spent!