By Priscilla J. Dunstan, McClatchy-Tribune
Learning to read isn’t as simple as knowing ones letters, it involves a great many different skills and various mental processing milestones.
An understanding of sequences, pattern recognition, symbols and how sounds interchange to create new words, are important for children to understand what they read. By catering to your child’s dominant sense, you can ensure that those skills are mastered, making learning to read, easier, quicker and more solid.
For tactile children using letters they can pick up and handle, in many differing fabrics and materials will help them associate more personally with each letter. Getting them to physically spell out their name, favorite food or activity will help them understand sequencing and that letters — with their own sound — when added together produce a word. Physical games, such as hopscotch using words and letters, molding letters and words out of sand or play dough, or asking them to try to bend their body into the letters will create an easy association to learning to read.
Visual children will love the order of the alphabet. Everything has its place, even letters! They will respond well to flash cards, writing on a chalkboard or cutting out letters from magazines and arranging them into words. Writing a word next to a matching picture, or labeling things around the house will teach them about the concept of symbolism and pattern recognition. Using a wall chart, which matches their routine with picture and word, will help them grasp the concept of practicality, for reading is not just what you watch it’s also something that is part of everyday associations.
Auditory children, need to associate sound to pictures. Lots of explaining the whys and wherefores! Explain to them that writing is a way for other people to hear with their eyes.
They will excel at pattern recognition, however a parent needs to be careful when using flash cards as the auditory child’s natural gift of memorizing sounds can impair their ability to learn to sound out the letters and words phonetically. Often a more informal approach can help with this, having them read from a variety of sources such as books, magazines, cereal boxes or even sign posts.
Taste/smell children need to feel safe and nurtured in order to learn. Associating words with people or things they care about will elevate their interest. Writing letters to friends and family and in turn, receiving them, shows them that reading can be a bonding experience. If using flash cards, start with words relating to emotion, add the visual then have them act out the word. Labeling foods, and having them help with shopping and cooking, by writing the shopping list or reading a simple recipe, will give them a sense of sequence and improve their pattern skills.
By making the experience of learning to read, sensory, your child will not only gain an extremely valuable skill but also build on the pleasure of learning.
Priscilla J. Dunstan is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of “Child Sense.” Learn more about Priscilla and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com.