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Learning Through Play

Letters and Words

Why begin Teaching Reading through Games?

It is vital that early reading experiences are happy and positive. The aim should be not just for children to learn to read, but to enjoy reading. Whilst games may appear to be an indirect approach, they do protect a child from a feeling of failure. By 'playing together' both parent and child are relaxed. Where a child could feel pressured in a formal teaching situation he/she will usually enjoy reading activities in a 'play' situation. This article aims to give you simple ideas to try.

Whilst there is no set age to begin introducing the ideas of letters and words as children develop at different rates, it is a good idea to start at the pre-school stage. Many parents are concerned that they may teach their child in the 'wrong way' which conflicts with methods that are used in school. It is true in fact that many parents do make simple mistakes such as teaching their child to write their name in capital letters, which can cause difficulties when he/she begins school, but the aim of this article is to give a few pointers which can help to avoid such problems.

How Reading is Taught

Reading can be taught in a combination of ways:

  • The Look and Say method (sometimes known as the Whole Word or Sight method) where a child learns to recognise a word by sight through looking at it a number of times.
  • The Whole Sentence method is similar to Look and Say except a child memorises a whole sentence which usually has an accompanying picture.
  • The Phonic method uses the sounds of letters or letter groups. By learning the sounds a child has a strategy for de-coding a word which can be 'sounded out'.

The following activities involve each of these methods. They are not recommended in any particular order, but the sentence activities are best left until your child has some knowledge of individual letter sounds.