Teaching a 4 year old to Read
My oldest son is now 21 years old. I remember buying all the available curriculum for reading to give him a headstart. He was a guinea pig in that sense. You probably want to know how he fared in this aspect. Well, frankly, he is not fond of reading; at least not in a scholarly way, but only on the practical sense.
This story leads me to another experience with my son who is 4 years younger than him. Adamant in making sure my first born is ahead in reading at that time, I dragged my then-toddler to all tutoring sessions with my first born. The younger son played alongside.
After a year of this, I found my younger son reading without me teaching him anything. My lesson learned is each child has unique abilities. The best experience you can give a child is to teach him to read without stress. When you find yourself yelling to remind him to pay attention and focus, then you have to step back.
With this mindset, I tried to be calm in teaching my 4 year old nowadays. But, I keep failing. Call it too excited, but I am too passionate about teaching him to read because I recognize some potential. What if he can really move further forward and it is just me delaying it?
At 4 years old, he can read any 3-letter word. He has started to write in cursive. He has begun to read the McGuffey First Reader. Who wouldn't be excited about this? "Strike when the iron is hot".
As I have discussed in other parts of this website specifically in the "Learn to Read" section, I started by letting him play at Starfall.com. So even before he turned 2 years old, he knew the sounds of the alphabet. When I tried book one of "Hook on Phonics", he did so well on the sounds of the letters. He loved it when I read the "Hook on Phonics Readers". He also enjoyed reading three-letter words. He gets excited when after reading the word, the picture matches what he read.
Really, a 4 year old is so eager to learn and read unless the child has the television or DVD as the babysitter. I noticed that when I restrain myself from allowing him to watch a movie, he is more inclined to read the books available at our library. If I give in to his requests especially when he says "Please learning movies please?", it just becomes too irresistible to say "yes". Even if it is just for just 30 minutes a day, he loses his interest in reading books.
I see a merit in the advice of Dr. Art Robinson, the founder of the Robinson Curriculum. He is an avid proponent of "no television" policy in his household. Only when you completely remove television in your way of life will you discover remarkable improvement in your child's desire to read.
My dilemma is whether to teach in a structured kindergarten school way, one lesson each day for a specific number of minutes or do I just continue to teach when I feel less stressed out about teaching and make it playful?
The truth is I encountered this question several times in my life. I have to remind myself of my new resolution.
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you, because God's plan for your child even in the task of learning to read is usually better.