Finding What Works: Teaching Buddy to Read

I’ve been experimenting with different methods with teaching Buddy to read. It’s something I’m real excited for him to learn because learning to read helped me out so much as a child. While his language problems seem related more towards expressive difficulties than receptive (mine were receptive) I still think it would be helpful.

I at first tried some traditional Montessori methods with getting him to write first. We tried tracing letters in trays filled with salt and textured letters. While Sissy liked the textured letters, Buddy didn’t. And while Buddy liked playing in the salt trays, if I asked him to copy a letter or shape he would ask me to do it for him. And therein was the problem, Buddy’s fine motor skills are very poor, and he doesn’t feel confident drawing shapes or letters and would rather I do it. I tried several other mediums, but he wasn’t having it. Best I figure here is to keep doing fun activities to build his fine motor abilities until he feels more confident with it.

I then decided to try to get elaborate with some kinesthestic activities, but he just wasn’t having that.

We’ve ended up just sticking with how I’ve taught him his numbers, colors, and how to count: books. On the one hand it seems so boring. But when I read to him is where I get some really good interaction with him. So I started having him point out different letters in the books  we were reading and going over their sounds.

The other tool I’ve found useful with him is blocks. He learned colors through books and sorting different colored blocks. So I got some letter blocks and picked out the letters c, a, t and r. I sat down with him, and had him identify and sound out c-a-t, cat. After we established that, I introduced the r, and once he got the sound, I swapped the r with the t. I was stunned when, without any prompting, he read, “car.”

It’s encouraging because it shows he gets the idea behind sounding out the letters. We’ve worked with the blocks a few other times. There’s some letters and letter sounds he has down cold, and others he doesn’t, which considering he’s five seems rather normal. But he gets the concept of sounding them out to make words. In fact, he got it so fast I asked the people at his therapy sessions if anyone was going over reading with him, and they said no. But he does pick up on things very fast once he understands what it is they want him to do, so they weren’t surprised that he got it quickly.

This weekend at Half Priced Books I found this Play and Learn Magnetic Book that had magnetic letters that you use to spell out words in the book. I bought it, and Buddy was entranced by it. He loves playing with it and sounding things out. My only complaint is that he doesn’t want to remove the letters on the page he’s just done, so if a new page has the same letters he doesn’t have them. Other than that it seems to work well with his learning style, and I plan to buy several more like it.

I think I’m finding that teaching Buddy to read doesn’t have to be complex and elaborate and outside of the box. Like everything else he’s learned, books and blocks seem to be the best combo with him.

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