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How To Choose Early Reading Programs For Young Children
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How to Choose Early Reading Programs for Young Children

There are many early reading programs available today. Most make big promises yet fall short when actually used in the home setting. This is very frustrating to earnest parents who want to help their young child develop pre-reading skills or transition from a slow reader to a superb reader.

Learning to read requires a linear step by step approach. It doesn't matter how colorful or flashy the materials. The program won't work if there isn't a clear and concise instruction manual for parents to understand the exact correct order of presentation.

One thing a parent can do to increase the usefulness of a purchased early reading program is to take it slowly and create many more activities that teach each step. Repetition is a key aspect to early reading. For instance, some programs might introduce a pre-reading activity such as rhyming pairs with picture card matching. Don't just do the lesson a few times and think it is over! Children need to practice this or any other activity until it is clear they have internalized the specific targeted skill.

For instance, try finding actual physical objects that are rhyming pairs. Put one set in a basket and then help your child to spread the other set out on a table. (Make sure your child knows the name of each object). You take the first turn. Take one object from the basket and say out loud what it is: 'cat'. Then put it down next to one of the objects and name both: 'cat-dog'. Say 'no....that doesn't rhyme'! Once you discover the match say 'cat-mat' and ask your child to also say 'cat-mat'. Soon your child will be finding the match before you do. Eventually let them do the entire activity independently as you watch!

The purchasable early reading programs sometimes skip important steps or they don't offer many activities to reinforce skills. There are some children who will learn to read easily and early. But most children need repetition and fun games that focus on each step. Phonetic programs that teach the letter name with the letter sound should trigger a big red flag for parents. The letter sound is only taught initially. It is very challenging when children start to decode words and they get confused between the letter sound and the letter name.

Don't get caught purchasing a big early reading program that does not truly give your child all the practice activities and sequences necessary to teach reading. Avoid investing in early reading programs that make big claims unless you can find out more. It is possible that you might discover that a simpler homemade early reading program may be much more effective.


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