Okay, so I warned you all that I was going to start posting a few things every now and again with content that falls under the Mommy Blog umbrella. This is one of those posts.
And honestly, this is one of the things I like most about having good mental health right now: I have energy for some of the extras--like teaching my five-year-old to read! Supergirl E (which is what I call her in my head) has a fall birthday so she isn't in kindergarten this year. I'm pretty sure that if I didn't work on it with her she would figure it out in kindergarten, but she really wants to read and it feels good to do this with her.
Now, I'm no curriculum designer or teacher or really anyone with any kind of knowledge on this subject--except that I like to read and I like to read with my kids. There are a lot of theories and methods about teaching kids to read but (from what I gather) most of them seem to include letter recognition, matching sounds and letters, the ability to recognize some words on sight, and the ability to sound out words.
Her preschool has been pretty rigorous about helping her match letters and sounds. We also have a Jumpstart game that does that. And we have letter puzzles and books that we practice letter recognition and the sound matching. Another thing I've noticed about this is that kids seem to do better if you focus on one letter each day-- kind of like Sesame Street :) (It's good enough for me!!)
The part where I've really been working with her is on sight words and sounding out words. My oldest learned to read by memorizing word after word until things just clicked. So with E, I've been using these lists of sight words for preschoolers. This page has a pretty good list and activities. (Or you can combine this pre-school level list with this kindergarten list.)
My absolute favorite site, though, is Hubbard's Cupboard. This site is chock-full of info, but the stuff we use the most are the printable Sight Word Booklets. Now, if you don't want to spend money on printer paper these books may not be for you, but we love them.
The first thing I do is make flash cards of the sight words in the book and we look them and sound them out and trace the letters. Then we get the printed booklet out and I have Supergirl E circle the sight word on each page. If there is more than one sight word that we are working on in the booklet then we go back through and circle that one in another color. Then I read her the book once through, tracing my finger under the words. Then I have her read it to me. Finally I have her pick a booklet she has already passed off to read to me. This seems to work best when we are snuggled up on the couch.
To be honest, I'm not very consistent with this. We'll do it everyday for a couple weeks and then life will get in the way for awhile. But whenever it is that we come back to it, we just pick up where we left off and keep plugging away. She's got more than 20 sight words and she's starting to sound things out so I think I'm going to try some of the Word Family Booklets on her soon. Every little bit helps! (At least that's what I tell myself. . .)