I taught fourth and first grade while I was doing Teach for America in Oakland after college and during my time in NY, Escondido and here in SF, I've taught reading exclusively, working with kids from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Now that Jonas is getting closer to being school-age, I've been trying to tap into some of my skillz (yes, skillz should always be spelled with a z) as a reading teacher to get him ready to learn to read.
I'm not actually trying to teach him how to read yet (I don't think he's ready for that quite yet), but just doing all those pre-reading, early reading, reading readiness things that make real reading less challenging.
(All that means is that I'm being lazy and just doing the stuff that doesn't require much planning and prepping and using materials I have lying around our house already.)
Yesterday we did magnetic letters.
It went something like this:
Me: "Jonas, what word do you want to spell?"
Jonas: "Umma, let's spell DOG!"
Me: "Ok. What sounds do you hear in DOG?"
Jonas and Me: "D-O-G..."
Me: "I hear a D sound (hand him the D) and a G sound (hand him the G)."
Jonas put them up on the fridge like this:
Yes, I know they're not in the right order, but that's a-ok with me. I know he'll get the L-R thing later.
Me: "Ok, now what letter do we need in the middle? D-O-G (saying the sounds), can you find the O sound?"
Jonas found the O and put it in the middle.
And, without even meaning to, our son spelled God. Because he's just that holy and awesome. Jeff is so proud...
We look at the word and say the sounds and I tell him that he spelled "God." We cheer because it's awesome and everyone at the Locke household loves God.
Then, Jonas decides to take off the last sound...
...and add a new sound, P...
...and he says each of the sounds again, G-O-P...
...and he made the word "GOP!" This makes both of us giggle.
I won't bore you with anymore details of this but we did this for awhile, and then we played a beginning sounds game.
All this to say, if you're thinking of helping your child get ready to read, it really can be the easiest thing ever. As someone who has worked with kids who struggled with reading, I'd say that a kindergartener who comes into school knowing their sounds and letters (and maybe even how to figure out beginning sounds of words, if you're feeling ambitious) are well on their way to being successful readers. I think that for little kids, the best thing to do is make reading fun.
No, really. I've been a reading specialist for 5 years and I actually just said that.
I'll say it again: Make reading FUN. Do the funny voices. Pick the best books to read aloud. Take the kids to the library. Sing the alphabet song a lot. FUN!
The more they want to do it, the more they'll be likely to persevere if it's not easy-peasy when it's time to learn how.
And, just so Penny's not forgotten...