The first step to teaching your child to read is really quite simple if you have the right equipment and understand exactly what your child needs to learn. These are skills that children should learn in their first year of school, however many children don’t achieve them for various reasons. The following are the very first skills that will set your child up for reading success: 

1. Your child needs to be able to recognise the letters of the alphabet and say the short letter sound. 

2.Your child needs to be able to blend the short letter to read 3 and 4 letter words. 

Why begin with the short letter sound? 

To begin with, teach your child the short letter sounds (the illustrations below begin with the short letter sound) rather than the letter name (which is what we say when reciting the alphabet). This is important because as you teach your child the letters, you should also be teaching them to blend the letter sounds to read three letter words. For example, “cat”, “sit” and “hot”.  In fact, children only need to recognise three letters (“s”, “a” and “t”) and they can start blending the letter sound to read “sat”. 

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 Your child can be reading words in just 25 days!

The School Start Buddy is specifically designed to teach these essential literacy skills. If you own a School Start Buddy, simply spend 10 minutes a day following the steps below with your child (scroll down to view a video explaining how to do the activity): 

Introduce a new letter by writing it on the whiteboard and saying the sound it makes (use the ‘letter of the day’ link below because it gives you an order to teach the letters, as well as blend words for step 4). Hand your child the whiteboard so that they can practise writing the letter. 

Ask your child to think of words that begin with the letter sound from the previous step. Write these words on the whiteboard while your child watches (children learn by simply watching you write).

Erase your writing and direct your attention to the magnetic letters. Say the letter sound for each letter your child has learnt so far so that your chid can find and place the corresponding letter on the whiteboard (if you use the ‘letter of the day‘ link, you will know exactly what letters your child has learnt). 

Use the letters your child has placed on the whiteboard (the letters they have learnt so far) to make 3 letter words and practise blending these sounds to read the words. Once again, if you’re using the ‘letter of the day‘ link, there is a list of blend words that only contain the letters your child has learnt so far.   

Remove the magnetic letters from the whiteboard in front of your child. Explain to your child that every letter has a lower-case form and an upper-case form. Use your whiteboard marker to show your child what the capital letter from Step One looks like. If you have a School Start Capital Letter Case, your child can find the corresponding magnetic letter. 

Finish the activity with a fun game. Use your whiteboard marker to divide your board into six sections. Inside each rectangle write either letters or blend words. Give your child the whiteboard eraser and ask them to erase the letters or words as you say them. Once they have erased everything, swap roles so that your child writes letters or word and you erase them as they read them. 

Why is this activity so effective to use with young children? 

√ It uses a range of learning tools, which means children with a short attention span stay interested for longer. First your child starts with writing on the whiteboard, then they manipulate magnetic letters and lastly they use the eraser to rub out words and letters.

√ It combines a range of essential reading and writing skills into a 10 minute activity. 

√ Children not only learn to recognise letters, but they also learn essential blending skills so they can read words. 

√ It’s hands-on, so it improves your child’s fine-motor skills. 

√ It’s EASY – all you need to do is open the case and everything you need is at your finertips. 

√ Best of all – NO SCREEN TIME! It’s a great way to spend quality time with your child each day. 

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