By the time your child starts school they will know around 4000 to 6000 words and seem to be picking up new words and phrases every day. Whilst they do not need to be reading by themselves when they start reception, it is always a good idea to read together as much as you can and encourage your child to recognise some simple words such as ‘to’, ‘go’, ‘sat’, ‘dog’, etc.
A lot of teachers recommend that you keep reading together for the purpose of learning to read separate from the equally important bedtime story and that you set aside a quiet time of the day when your children aren’t too tired, hungry or over-excited. Follow the words with your finger and encourage your child to do the same and remember to take as much time as needed over the words. Books that are slightly repetitive and are mainly short, simple words such as the Spot the Dog books and Hairy McClairy are good for practicing familiar words and building confidence. It is also a good idea to let your child choose the book and repeat it as many times as they want.
Other people prefer to use flash cards when teaching word recognition. These can be with or without illustrations but some people prefer using ones with pictures as a lot of children are visual learners and it is easier to associate familiar objects with their corresponding names. As before, encourage your child to use their finger to follow the word and break it down into it’s components. A great way of learning basic words whilst having fun is word games, it could be as simple as writing letters on toy blocks and ‘building’ words or memory games with short words. You can also try getting your child to copy out words with a pencil or with letter magnets from flash cards to help them to learn the individual components of words.
It can take several attempts to learn a new word, so repetition is key, so keep reading the same familiar books and playing the same games. Also, it is important that children are allowed to self-correct so keep encouraging them! Once they’ve cracked a few sight words, their confidence will really be boosted for the rest of their reading journey.