Reading Games Teach Fun Phonics by Robyn

I am back with more information regarding early reading.

My second article dealt with the alphabet and how to teach its sounds. In this one I shall show you the importance of games to stimulate interest and empower the learning process.

Never stereotype children, babies included. They are as different as snowflakes. They can have an awareness belying their tender years, a great boldness, build an instant rapport with strangers, fit instantly into their new world, and hug for the Olympics. They can understand the power of their demands and consign the notion of gradual development to the bin. Or, they can be the antithesis of all these remaining squarely within varying shades of each and every one.

But whilst each child is his or her own little person, there are at least two issues where all children become stereotypical. They all love games and they all hate being force fed anything. Sit a child down and teach him and he will resist learning possibly forever. Play learning games with him and he will embrace learning, possibly forever.

The continuous development of his learning skills will depend on your influence, your approach.

You have printed the letters of the alphabet one letter at a time, on postcards in red felt pen. When your child has mastered say the ‘a’ ‘b’ ‘c’ on his bedroom walls and the ‘d’ ‘e’ ‘f’ on the door of the fridge, swap them around. You can place them in surprising places, one on a gumboot then ask “What on earth is this cheeky ‘a’ doing on your gumboot Simeon?” The tray of the high-chair, a place-mat, pinned to a curtain, in the sock drawer, the back of a chair, on a door, are all admirable spots. In fact any strategic and unexpected place where a young reader can see, identify and have a good, indignant laugh at these cheeky sounds that move around so much. Particularly important is that you move them around and introduce new sounds for a continuous development and complete familiarisation. All the new readers I have ever taught, from tinies to older people who were learning to read for the first time in their lives, have all loved identifying sounds in shops, especially those banner headlines advertising specials and sales.

Bear in mind there are only twenty-six letters in the alphabet and children are sponges in the learning game.

In a role reversal, let your child test you. Stumble, get a few wrong, allow yourself to be corrected, children love it. One parent actually resisted this saying she would not lie to her child. Remember it is a game, many games require bluffing, the difference with this game is that it has future issues of overwhelming importance to your child.

A game children enjoy is to place the cards they know on the floor in a spaced line. They become stepping stones in a river. Go carefully along, stepping on each stone and not falling into the water.

Or your line of cards can become a Formula One track, if you miss a letter you hit a hay bale, if you complete the circuit, the laurel crown (a winter hat) awaits.

The cards can be stuck to a door which then becomes a beautiful apple tree. Holding a small basket or bag, your child picks every ‘apple’ she reads correctly.

Fairies and elves, a game where the child hides under a table (mushroom) and answers each card in a fairy or elf voice. Giants hide behind a rock (chair) , robots stride along the carpet and all answer in the appropriate voice. You and your child can probably think of many more characters to assume. These games are fun, fast and enable your child to learn brilliantly. Later they can be adapted to the synthetic phonic sounds, they cost nothing and all children love them.

Just keep your child laughing and you will keep him learning.

My next article will deal with the importance of reading every single day.

Robyn Dalby-Stockwell is a teacher, writer, broadcaster, reading consultant and Director of Alonah Reading Cambridge the only source of her four book reading course, giving reading support to parents and their children.

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