I wanted to share with you how I taught my children to read. I started to teach Miss K and Little L their letter sounds at three and half years old! I know teaching a young child to read goes against true Waldorf tradition, in a Steiner school reading isn't taught until around age seven. However, with both of the children in a mainstream school setting, I wanted to be the one to give them the gift of reading before they started their Reception year at age four.
I started with teaching the letter sounds using a multi-sensory approach with Jolly Phonics. I used the Jolly Phonics Finger Phonics board books. Both of the children loved these books, they are perfect for little hands as they are made from sturdy board and the illustrations are very bright and detailed. There are seven books in the series, covering all the 42 letter sounds, both the alphabet sounds as well as the digraphs, for example, sh. On each page, there is an indented letter so the child is able to follow their finger along the path of the letter to see how it is formed ready for writing in the future.
I also chopped up a Jolly Phonics Wall Frieze and laminated each individual piece so they could be flicked through and used as large, colourful sound cards.
The children also loved the Jolly Songs which contained a jingle for each sound! They learnt these songs off by heart. The jingles are so much fun, they really helped the girls remember their letter sounds! I would say the audio book is essential if you are not familiar with phonics to ensure you are teaching the correct 'sound' for each letter to your child.
Obviously, I wouldn't use all these methods at any one time. I would alternate them. We would spend about five minutes a day on a chosen sound activity. We would choose between looking through the Finger Phonic books, or singing a couple of the jingles from the CD or we would flick through the sound cards I'd made. Or there might be child led moments too, just like here.
Three and a half weeks ago, at the beginning of our summer break, I decided to start Little L on 'formal' reading practice using Jelly and Bean decodable phonic reading books. She was four years and four months old. I bought the entire Jelly and Bean reading scheme when I taught Miss K to read in 2009. I adore the Jelly and Bean characters, the two kittens who are sister and brother. The text has been carefully chosen for young children so they can make sense of what they are reading. They aren't simply decoding text, they are able to make sense of the words as objects and concepts. The children are able to read for meaning as well as pleasure as they find out what the kittens get up too. I also like to use all the flash cards available from Jelly and Bean, for example, the Word Cards and the High Frequency Words. Little L loves to sit down with me and sound a word out from a flash card and then I turn it over and show the picture to her. I love to see the delight in her face when she has merged the sounds together to say the word. Using the method of segmenting each letter sound and then blending, she is able to already read sentences like 'I am on a red mat. I am in a red bag.' She is so proud of herself!
(This is not a sponsored post. I am not being paid or given any free reading books/resources to promote any of the products I have written about. This is simply how I have taught both my children to read)