Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sharing Experience: How did we teach LZ to Read in English (Pengalaman mengajar LZ to read BM, coming soon)

LZ, like most kids, need help and a planned out approach to get her into reading. I love to read, but hubs only reads if he feels to and we both love the idiot box aka TV so much!

But which approach? People love to categorize. Phonics, Whole Language, Sight Words – we make reading as complicated as everything else.  
For a small minority of children, reading comes naturally. They start looking at books, get some help with what letters and words say, and gradually they start reading. Some can even read at the age of 2y.o!

All kids want to know is what all those words say so they can read their books!

Learning to read is a big milestone. It’s like toilet training: you know your child will get it, but when? (Toilet training: LZ was toilet trained as early as 2y.o, thanks to her dear Opah. Can't imagine how I'm gonna do it without her).

Reading ability can also be a way parents ‘keep score’. While our child is still learning the names of letters, our neighbor casually mentions that her child the same age reads an hour a day. What happens if your child ends up in Primary 1 with kids who read at an advanced level? Will your child fall behind? Does he need a tutor? Medication? Of course not.

I've read somewhere, children experience a natural Sensitive Period for learning to read when they are around 3-5 years old. Notice I said, learning to read

LZ taught herself how to understand and speak the language some time ago, although English is not our mother tounge, we do speak the language at home. Fyi, every child is also genetically programmed to learn to read. It is so much easier to teach a child to read if we take advantage of this natural Sensitive period when the child is young. Before we buy sandpaper sounds and sight word workbooks, though, ask ourselves two questions: Does my child see me reading every day? and, Do I read with my child every day?

Plus, our home needs to be a place where reading is practiced, valued, and encouraged. If we don’t read and mostly watch TV, guess what your child is going to do? 

At 2y.o, we noticed that LZ was kinda attached to the TV, so it triggered me that she needs to see me read.. like the slogan, "Membaca amalan Hidup". Be it reading newspapers, books, magazines (okay, online books too!). So we subscribed to the newspapers (only on weekends-working parents, no point buying everyday, kat office ada boleh bawak balik hehehe) and have regular visits to the bookstore (to read, hangout and sometimes buy - kiasu tak?). And Alhamdulillah, she gradually moved away from the TV to her books.. (this includes tearing and scribbling her 'artworks' on them)

When she turns 3, I read her books that she picked out and really loves. We read them as many times as she wants to. And, I'll try to let out my inner child as I read (well, a toddler won't be judging you, right?). I used different voices for the characters, act amazed and surprised, show enthusiasm and have fun. Most of all, I'll try to make reading time a warm, fun, loving experience (eventho it normally lasts as long as 10mins - she has short attention span.. just being kids).

When LZ gets older (almost 4), I pointed out words and encouraged her to read when she wants to (at that time we were using the Peter Jane series, before we were exposed to Phonics system). Talk about the story and the characters and get your her ideas. The key here is to be attentive, open, and engaged and gradually draw our child’s attention to the print. 

We didn't invest into any child enrichment centres to 'help' her to read.. but I did invest into some Grolier sets of books (well, this is more like her mom's dream came true - always wanted this set since back in my teens when reading it at my aunt's place). The whole set akan sgt berjasa to my keturunan, i would say, as it includes sets of books, activities and even some DVD for all ages. 
And there's this set (Disney's Magic English DVD & Books) where you can 'feed' your child with new vocabs and correct dictions. Many find this set a waste, but i kinda find it helpful. LZ used to play the DVD over n over again while I'm busy with the house chores or whenever I left her at home with her aunt or Opah. At least she's not only watching the Astro kids channels.

At 4y.o, Phonics breaks the code (we were introduced to it when she enrolled into a Montessori Playschool) and allows LZ to experience quick success in decoding written language, building words, and reading her first books. These experiences gave her confidence and a positive attitude toward reading. Phonics has then done its job.

Sight Word games and activities then help her recognize common words on sight, which is how we all were taught to read. This leads seamlessly into reading, reading, and more reading.

At 5+, Alhamdulillah LZ started reading some books on her own. along the way, she still needs help in blending some new words thus adding up her vocabs. It was a great milestone and achievement for her, although many kids has been there way earlier than her. But hey, she does has other skills that she gained earlier than other kids too u know, need not to be kiasu here :-)) (or am i? heheh)

I believe reading is an organic process that is mastered primarily by doing it, not 100% depending on those 'read&write' enrichment classes.. We can do it at home too.. 
Many ways will work. The important thing is to always follow the child. Watch for signs of that sensitive period for reading starting and then make the most of it!

And now, we're in the process to get AJ's interest to read. She has 100% different character than her sister, so have to use different approach.. which I'm still wondering how.. :-))


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