Teaching Reading to Children with Special Needs


This week I’m writing about something close to my heart – teaching our children to read and to love books.
There are many, many ways to teach children to read (phonics based vs whole word instruction etc) and it can seem confusing. It doesn’t have to be hard or stressful and needn’t be daunting. Here are some easy ideas that you can do at home that will benefit children with and without additional learning needs.
The most important point to remember is to keep it fun and relaxed!
–          I won’t go into the importance of reading aloud to children. Mem Fox has written a fabulous book for adults called “Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever”. I suggest you go directly to your preferred online book supplier and order a copy. Now. Do not pass go!
–          Your starting point for instilling a love of reading will be whatever your child is interested in. Food, The Wiggles, trucks etc.  Draw pictures (or have your child draw the pictures) and write simple sentences underneath. For young children you might only have 10-15 words, with a sentence on each page.  The first one may be ‘Our Family’ with photos of family members and an accompanying sentence ‘Here is Mummy’ etc. Make flashcards with the words from the book. Take photos wherever you go and make them into a book when you get home e.g. ‘Our trip to the park’, ‘Swimming Lessons’.
–          Write a simple sentence on paper, accompanied by a photo e.g. ‘I am playing in the sandpit’. Write the same words on cardboard and cut them out so you have one per piece. Ask your child to find the same word and velcro it above the original words. If you can afford it, a laminator and some velcro will be your best friends!
–          Talk about signs, ads and displays when you’re out and comment on them e.g. “Look, that word starts with ‘J’ just like your name”.
–          Make sure your child sees you reading.
–          Singing nursery rhymes, finger plays and alphabet songs together are incredibly important. One of the most significant head starts you can give young children is to have them know at least 5 nursery rhymes off by heart before they start Prep.
I would love to hear from parents who have come across simple, practical ideas for the teaching of reading! Why not share them on the Chilled Kids Facebook page
Jiselle Simpson is Director of Chilled Kids, an educational support service specialising in creating programs for children with additional learning or behavioural needs.  For more information on how Chilled Kids can help your child visit our website at www.chilledkids.com, phone 0408 716 350 or email jiselle@chilledkids.com

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