Teaching reading does not begin with the recognition of written letters and how they combine to make words. Parents can do so much to prepare their children for learning to read. And the wonderful part is: it can all be done through play! In fact, playing is the best way to prepare your child for reading because you tap into all the important brain pathways used in reading. Play also keeps your child well and truly attentive and focussed on what you are teaching and makes sure that it stays in his memory.

Yes, we are literally wired to learn through movement and fun and games! If we watch little kittens or puppies at play, we see how their play is so often about developing their natural skills that they would need if they were still in the wild.

You may think that reading is not really one of our primitive skills and therefore we will learn it best with modern technology. But think carefully about what reading actually is and you realise that it is a natural progression of human development.

We began making sounds and converted those over time into speech and language. We began to make marks to represent ideas and then we finally combined the two to make marks to represent the sounds we make. The marks, like the sounds they represent, are able to be combined in many sequences and thus empower us to communicate millions of words and trillions of ideas, using a relatively small number of different marks (written letters).

So we see that we have developed the links between our hearing and our vision to a finely tuned communication skill. In order to become proficient at this skill, children need to learn to become aware of sounds within words and to be able to separate sounds from each other. They need to be able to play with sounds. They also need to recognise shapes of letters and remember the sounds they represent. There is such a lot of learning that needs to be achieved before we can really begin a formal reading lesson. As you can imagine, trying to learn this purely cognitively, relying on visual and auditory memory is very daunting and limiting. We simply have to help our children to develop a sense of owning words, sounds and letters; helping them to experience the feeling of being in control of the written word.

To complicate matters further: the part of our brain that interprets and understands the visual signs is on the opposite side to the one that interprets and understands the sounds. And when we read across the page, the two sides of our brain have to work very closely in order to see a smooth, meaningful text.

Occupational Therapists have long used movement and play to help children develop efficient integration between the two sides of the brain; using nature's natural processes of movement and play to help children develop fully, working within our natural design. Using these methods to teach reading, makes full use of nature's design and allows children to learn reading naturally and easily.

In my work, I see so many children for whom reading is really difficult. They struggle to relate to letters and words as part of our natural world. Instead of having a sense of ownership of written words, they feel over-powered by them. I therefore developed a reading programme which uses the therapeutic principles of movement and play. It worked so well with the children I was treating, that I was asked by many to write a book on it.

Parents want to help their children. It is important that teachers and therapists realise that we cannot and should not be the ones holding all the aces when it comes to child development. Parents are the main key-holders to the gateway of their child's success. I therefore decided that the book I was to write should be aimed at empowering parents to help their children. Yes, the reading programme in the book can be used by therapists and teachers and many of them have already bought it to use with their patients; but the design and choice of games in the programme are all chosen to make it fun and easy for parents to teach their children to read.

Homeschool parents are in a perfect position to include movement and fun into their reading lessons. Homeschooled children can spend time playing the games and feel as though they are having a break between lessons, yet they are actually laying down key foundations for reading.

When we design reading programmes or other teaching programmes, we should aim to empower parents to help their children to learn. When parents can teach their children to read through movement, fun and games, this is how we can develop a love of learning that passes through the generations.

Sharon Stansfield Teach Your Child to Read with Movement, Fun and Games   By:  Sharon Stansfield
ISBN: 978-1-4797-0248-0    ISBN 13:  978-1-4797-0249-7 (eBook)
ISBN: 1-4797-0249-8 (eBook)
Spend half an hour a day playing and having fun with your child, following this series of games developed by an Occupational Therapist. This programme is carefully designed along developmental and therapeutic lines for children from Foundation-phase right through Junior Primary. Initially developed for children with learning disabilities, it is also very effective for children with dyslexia or ADHD.  

Contact me on Twitter @SharonLetsLearn.



Not just a book - a complete Reading Programme. Easy games, lots of fun for  all
The Worksheets are graded and use colour to link and highlight concepts and phonics. All supplied and ready to use in the carefully selected games.


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Tags: ADHD, Homeschool, Occupational, Sharon, Stansfield, Therapists, dyslexia, programme, reading, teaching


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