One of the most important things you can teach your child is how to read. For many children, most in fact, there is an intuitive ability to grasp the story in a picture book. A handful of others can grasp the written language as though it feeds right into their brains. For the rest of us, however, teaching a child how to read can be difficult especially when you have a tactile learner.
So first let’s talk about the three types of learners–visual, auditory, and tactile. Visual learners are the ones who pick up on books like ducks to water. They learn from seeing and a book is all about pictures and words. For them, repetition is more important than phonics, or sounding out a word. If they see it often enough they’ll remember how it’s written and how it’s spoken.
Auditory learners are the ones who pick up reading through the spoken word. If you read the same book over and over to an auditory learner, she will pick up the content and learn to read. Make sure she sees the words and the pictures as you turn the page, making the connection between sound and sight.
Tactile learners are the hardest to teach reading. For them, everything is an experience. To be touched, felt, and remembered. When my children were very little, I discovered a series of books called Book Cooks. Unfortunately this line is out of print and I have probably the only remaining copies. Book Cooks are cookbooks centered around children’s picture books. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl has a wonderful recipe for Peachy Cakes. Yum. Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak is accompanied by none other than chicken soup with rice. The Very Hungry Caterpillar should always be followed with an entree of butterfly bites and Johnny Appleseed followed with baked caramel apples. The point is, every book should be an experience. Maybe instead of making butterfly bites, you have a puppet theatre with a caterpillar growing into a butterfly. Or follow If You Give a Mouse a Cookie with a trip to the pet store to look at mice.
Making connections between reading and life is just as important for visual and auditory learners as it is for tactile learners. It makes reading fun. Yes, I said the dirty word, F-U-N. My kids are very familiar with the word.
A tradition we started early and have continued is weekly outings to the library. We have library cards for each circulation group, or community of libraries. That way, we can borrow through interlibrary loan without driving to other libraries. My kids had library cards when they were one and two years old. Yes, they give them out at that age. By the time they were each four, they could run the self checkout scanner by themselves and knew exactly where to go on the shelves to get their reserved books. They knew the importance of keeping track of when their books were due and knew how to ask the circulation desk clerk to renew their books. Quite a feat for a four year-old. But when they love to read, it’s actually very rewarding. It also teaches children independence. They get less frustrated with you (because you are sometimes busy) and learn in a protected environment how to accomodate themselves. That is a priceless commodity–independence.
Originally published September 30, 2012.