You want them to be prepared for school and really just prepared for life. Literacy is one of the most important skills a human being needs to live and make their way in the world. So naturally this is exactly what parents want to teach their children. You want to be at the front lines with them. You want them to feel supported and have as many opportunities as possible in their future.
There is a difference between preparing our children for the world and "teaching." Preparing your children to face the world is difficult because most parents think they are "teaching" their child but in reality they are just pushing, stressing and antagonizing their children.
We need to change how we teach our children. Especially our younger children. Here are three reasons you should stop "teaching" your preschooler to read:
1. Teaching them to love to read is more important
Giving them a love for reading is more important than sounding out C-A-T with them. You teach your children to love reading by reading to them. They will learn to imagine the story happening as you read the words. They will love the sound of rhymes and alliterations when you are reading to them. This will get them excited about reading and learning the power that comes from learning to read themselves.
The other way you teach them to love reading is by loving to read. They will see you reading your books and will want to imitate you. They might not be able to read right away but as you read they will follow your lead and pull out a book and look at the words and pictures. It will get them familiar with the words and excited to learn how to actually read.
2. Don't try to make it a test
Don't pretend to forget words so you make them read. This is extremely annoying for children. They don't like tests sprung on them especially when they are enjoying spending time with you. It gives them unnecessary pressure and it will actually push away their desire to learn to read.
Instead of always trying to push their learning let it happen naturally through their questions. Now I'm not saying don't plan learning activities, just avoid making their learning only about testing their knowledge. Allow them to be the one asking the questions— focus on explaining and pointing things out to them instead of saying "do you know this?" or "what does that say?" When you are asking questions they don't know the answer to they will often feel dumb and not want to answer your questions.
When you are driving down the street have them help you pick out letters. Or if you are at the grocery story point out letters on the cereal boxes. You can teach them that the world around them is full of words, instead of sitting them down and sounding out the words.
Now a sit down lesson isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's not necessary for your preschoolers. You can show them the world is their oyster and there is always something for them to learn. They will love learning more if it is interactive and happens while you are doing other things, rather than if you were to simply sit down and go through letter flash cards.
I hope that this article teaches you to appreciate reading with your children. They will read when they are ready. Show them that you love reading, show them how the world opens up to them through literacy. If you share your love, their desire to learn will be deep and they will push themselves to learn, without any pushing on your end.
Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.