The best way to prepare your child for formal learning (grades 1 to 12) is to teach them how to read, for books are the doorway to knowledge and to truth. It is during the Preparatory Level (Preschool to Kindergarten), that you can teach your child to read in 3 simple steps: Step 1: Letters, Step 2: Words, and Step 3: Sentences. Let's take a look.
Our first objective in teaching reading is to allow children to seek truth for themselves, that is, to be able to read the word of God, the Bible, which sets us free.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Our second objective is to allow children to be wise in the knowledge of the world, through good books (+ saying no to television), so that they can think for themselves in an intelligent manner, and not be manipulated by those who are hungry for money or power.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. - 2 Thessalonians 3:13
From birth, we began reading books to our child, including alphabet books such as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or Dr. Suess's Alphabet Book. Look at our preschool read aloud list for suggestions on board books. When our child started noticing letters, between 2 or 3, we taught the following.
Step 1: Letters
We used A Child's First Book of Letters to introduce the name and phonic sound of one letter per week. "Aa sounds like /ah/ as in Apple." We usually sang the alphabet song as well. We showed the lower and upper case letters together. Around age 3, we practiced writing the letters using My First Writing Book: Level A.
Step 2: Words
After the letters are mostly mastered, we started to build words. We used magnetic letters on the fridge and cut out word tiles from My First Writing Book: Level B to build simple 3-letter words. We sounded out the words by pointing to each letter making the phonic sounds slowly (C-A-T), then we said it altogether, fast (Cat) - a game called "Say It Slow, Say It Fast."
Step 3: Sentences
After getting the hang of word building, we read sentences using McGuffey's Primer, a phonic based reader. It guides us to practice saying phonic blends (/th/), sight words (the) and short sentences (The cat. The rat.). We pause after each period. We start with just 1 lesson per week. If our child struggles with a word, we sound it out (see step 2), otherwise, we just let them read because they already know it. We practice more word building and writing sentences in My First Writing Book: Level C in kindergarten.
Questions for Discussion
Renee Metzler holds a degree in Secondary Ed, English from Bloomsburg University of PA. She is a homeschool mom of 4 children and is loves to share her joy of lesson planning and curriculum.
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