Introduction

The key to unlocking a child’s reading ability starts the day they are born. Giving them a rich literacy environment from the moment they come home from the hospital is crucial. By using the strategies laid out in this course, I can personally guarantee you will see your child excel later in school academically.

Not only am I going to give you the tools for raising readers, I am going to encourage you to read high quality books that are diverse and multicultural to raise a global citizen as well. I will give you practical ways to enrich their academics and their lives.

I am going to give the HOW and the WHAT to read so your child can learn to read, while also learning empathy and compassion to become a global citizen. I want your child to literally and figuratively read the world. Even if you have the most amazing and diverse library in the world at home or in the classroom, you still need the tools and strategies so that your child knows HOW to read them.

This course is also an investment in the future of the child in your care. By getting a child enthusiastic about literacy from birth, you are giving them a lifelong gift. I am going to help you develop a literacy foundation that is not based on a curriculum or learning style, but on finding a true love for reading and knowledge that includes other cultures, special needs, ethnicities, religion, etc.

There are too many parent/caregiver shaming books, articles, social media memes, and playground politics ready to make you feel as though you are not doing enough. Everyone has an opinion, but the purpose of this course is not to micromanage how you do things with the children in your life.

I want to give you guidelines from a professional literacy standpoint, but I am using my experiences to spark ideas for you, not to push my personal opinions. How you implement the reading strategies in this course is solely up to you. My hope is that your takeaway from this course is that you feel empowered, rather than overwhelmed.

Why is this course so important?

A child’s brain is 90% developed by the time they turn 5 and go to school. So, what must you do in the most important years of your child’s life? This course is going to give you all the tools you need to ensure you have made the most of those crucial first 5 years.

There is no formal reading curriculum in this course. You will not find difficulty applying these strategies. Many other courses require you to have a degree in teaching to understand what they are saying. These are practical and effective ways that EVERY parent and caregiver can do every day.

There are fancy programs and “reading shortcuts” advertised everywhere. This is a hands-on guide book for parents will give your child the boost they need to excel the rest of their life, which will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I will walk you through the health and emotional benefits of reading, writing, but most of all, the art of conversation with a child through music, language, art, play, and math. There are so many benefits and implications later in life for your child depending on what you do from the very start.

I will guide you through literacy techniques to use whole brain learning to engage a child in ways that you may think “how is that helping them to eventually read??” The reading magic is in the fundamentals.

In my professional life as an early elementary educator for the past 12 years, I have watched many students walk in my classroom door and each one of them brought with them a different reading experience. Some students came into my class from homes where books were celebrated and had huge libraries of their favorite titles. I had students whose parents were readers, and some whose parents did not finish their high school education.

There were also students had only seen movies based on books. There were students who struggled or hated all things print, and students who would read all day if I let them. I have spent years teaching kids in Kindergarten and 1st grade how to read and seen how much more the children from non-reader homes struggled. I wanted to reach out and make it easier for them.

I was inspired to write this course so that every parent and caregiver has the right tools and not just reading gimmicks. My dream is to see every child flourish and find joy in reading and literacy when they arrive in Kindergarten.

This course is very personal to me as well. I have a 5-year-old daughter who began Kindergarten this year, and just had my second baby girl. I have spent the last 5 years of my daughter’s life researching and learning how to cultivate a love for reading at a young age, and now the cycle will start over.

All the things I learned the last 5 years, I can now apply. My hope is to have learned from my mistakes and change tactics when I know things did not work. In the past 5 years, I have also gleaned knowledge from some of the greatest mentors in the world.

These are every day heroes that are regular teachers and mothers like me. I have read brilliant authors as well who have answered questions and given me tools to implement. I am consistently challenged by others that even when life is at its craziest, reading is our beacon of calm in the storm. Today, I am giving you those same tools.

Using these strategies consistently every day with my daughter, even when I felt like I had nothing left to give has paid off like nothing I could have expected. Seeing the success with my daughter from implementing the simple strategies of this course in everyday life is transformational.

Nothing you can read or study will ever magically happen when your child is born. When my daughter was born, I was a rookie mom just like everyone else. I definitely am not writing this as the perfect parent, far from it in fact.

I struggled through many days of being a mom and the last thing I wanted to do was work on literacy with my daughter. There have been, and will be days where I did not engage my child in speaking and listening, much less reading.

I teach early elementary so there were days that I came home so exhausted from little people questions and needs all day long that I had nothing left to give to my own child. As Lucy Calkins says, “No job requires more intelligence, knowledge, and energy than the job of parenting.”

I remember on a freezing cold day while we were living in Latvia (small country in Europe) where my California roots had me FED UP with the weather. My daughter was 15 months old, and I just didn’t feel like bundling my daughter in the 17 layers of clothes that it takes to go outside for a walk or to the park.

I sulked in my house while my daughter played alone and cried because I was ignoring her while I called my friend in San Diego to whine. I talked and engaged with others, but not with the person who needed me most.

On those types of days, you can imagine the guilt when I went to bed. Nevertheless, I refused to let those kinds of days discourage me from my ultimate goals and purpose. I worked tirelessly, through the good and the bad, to implement the most engaging strategies I knew, and they worked. There is no magic reading pill to give to children, but the magic lies in the daily and consistent strategies I am going to give you in this course.

When my daughter started Kindergarten this year, she read at a 4th grade reading level (based on the data from her STAR Literacy standardized test score not just a biased mom who thinks their child is “smart”). She is able to write a narrative story with complete sentences and her spelling is on a 2nd grade level. Again, I did not use any formal reading program with my daughter.

I never once used a website or manual book for teaching reading. I did not use phonics lessons or language programs or flashcards. I used quality literature and rich literacy experiences, learning multiple languages, as well as culturally rich experiences and travel.

After 5 years of making reading meaningful, it translated into complete success in Kindergarten. She is at the very top of her class and excels in all of the Reading and Language Arts skills being taught at school. I know many people who do use a formal curriculum and have seen varied amounts of success. These are tools that have certainly been proven to work.

However, if you are like me where you did not have access to these tools (I had unreliable internet in a third world country as an International School teacher) or cannot afford expensive programs, this course is meant for you. If you find it difficult to follow along with a curriculum book because of the complex techniques meant for teachers and not the average parent, this course is for you.

And if you want your child to have a culturally responsive library and find books that represent all types of multiracial, multicultural, and typically marginalized communities while you help them learn to read, this course is for you.

The video of my daughter is her reading a 3rd grade text at 5 years old using all 220 Dolch Sight Words. Sight words make up 50-70% of words in all texts in Grades K-3rd. Reading fluency is considered to be achieved when a child can read (and use in context) all 220 words. Again, this video is not a result from me using flashcards or drilling her repetitively. I used these words in context in our everyday life where she was exposed to language.

I talked to her, sang to her, asked questions, took her on field trips, taught her different languages, and the result is that she is a fluent reader. Conversation will turn your child into a reader. Using the art of conversation will turn your child into a lover of reading. I give you the tools to turn what you see as every day and normal conversation into an art form in my course.

I want to give you another example, in case using my own child has made you leery of the actual results (which I would expect and probably think myself if our roles were reversed). While teaching overseas, I had a student from Kazakhstan (for confidentiality we will call her Joy) who came to my 1st grade classroom.

Joy did not speak one word of English, but her parents had done very similar strategies at home with her that I am presenting in this course.

I talked to her parents thoroughly about what they needed to do at home, and everything I suggested, they told me they were doing, but in Russian. I thought this would be the perfect test for my strategies even though she was already 6 years old. Joy’s parents had laid the foundation and if she was already reading in Russian, I could certainly use my strategies and she would quickly be reading at the same level in English.

In four months of having Joy in my class 8 hours a day, she could also read and write fluently in English. She surpassed all of my native English-speaking students so quickly it was astonishing. In January of that school year, she tested at the top of the class in the reading and language arts standardized tests.

But more importantly, she beamed in pride in the reading corner curled up with a book in English. She took great pleasure in reading, period. Now she could have that pleasure in two languages because she was in love with the magical world that reading provides.

There are many students I have taught in the past years that are definitely great students and have successful starts to their academic lives. But rarely do I find a student like Joy that excel so quickly and so successfully. I have had many bright students with very involved parents who are well educated themselves, but there was a very dramatic difference in a student like Joy or my own daughter that thrived in the area of reading.

Every time they touched a good book, they seemed to be visibly changed. The questions they ask are deep and thoughtful as they make connections between books and real life that are insightful way beyond their age. Their insight is incredibly advanced for their age and it shows up daily in their conversations with other children, teachers, and even strangers.

I give these two examples because I want to highlight the difference between a child performing at grade level and truly being a lover of reading, as well as people. My course will give a child reading success. However, your diligence in implementing them will translate in what that success looks like.

To have your child be in the 50 th percentile is a guarantee if you invest time and energy into reading, speaking, writing, and listening with them. I want to give you BETTER than average with this course, and it all depends on you as your child’s first and most important teacher.

These strategies are designed to be woven daily into your child’s life, and how patiently and lovingly you implement them in the first 5 years of a child’s life will make the difference in their reading ability and love for reading.

In this course, I am giving you as parents and caregivers the tools and strategies you need to create a love for reading right from birth. The love of reading and expressing oneself through writing is not taught in school, but at home. If you can spend quality time each day with your child surrounding them with rich literacy experiences, your child will not have to go through the struggle of learning all the “rules” of reading later.

No matter where you are as a parent or caregiver, and not matter where your child is on the learning spectrum, you will find applicable strategies in this course to help your child move forward. If your child is struggling with language development or if your child is ahead of the language benchmarks, this course will help you and your child develop a closer bond over a lot of wonderful books.

This course is designed to have strategies for you no matter what language you are teaching your child. The Read Aloud Book Guide I have included in Lesson 1 has books in English, but for the rest of the content, you can apply the strategies in any language.

I will take you through the Phases of Literacy Development with various strategies.

Phases of Literacy Development

  • Phase 1: Awareness and Exploration (touching, feeling, seeing words)
  • Phase 2: Experimental Reading and Writing (babbling and scribbling)
  • Phase 3: Early Reading and Writing (letters, sounds, shapes, colors)
  • Phase 4: Transitional Reading and Writing (words, illustrations)
  • Phase 5: Independent and Productive Reading and Writing (reading comprehension and sentence fluency)

I will also help you create a literate environment in your home. This environment will nurture curiosity about language that supports your child as they become a reader/writer. Again, I will challenge you and push in many ways, but your hard work will pay off. The biggest challenge will be consistency.

This course is not designed to be implemented once a week or once a month. This will take a commitment every day. And it will take a commitment to diversifying the books you read so that you model empathy for people who are different. There will always be plenty of books. I want to help you pick the books intentionally so you have the right books to cultivating life-long learners and reading ninjas.

Again, I stress, this is not going to be a formal curriculum that is dry and boring for most children. I know many kids who have come into my Kindergarten classroom at 5 years old that know their alphabet letters and sounds and maybe even how to sound out words. I am not here to give you phonetic (letters and sounds) instruction like a formal reading curriculum does.

I do explain how to teach phonics, but not in a format of drilling or through rote memorization. This entire course will be an engaging and authentic way to introduce phonics, language, writing, etc. Through building background and comprehensible input (where you teach at the child’s developmental level rather than throwing a lot of big words around), they will build skills that will last a lifetime.

This course will give children a true love for the written word as well as build a foundation for creative critical thinkers who are confident readers. The added bonus of their knowledge of letters, sounds, and so much more will come more naturally and quicker than you can possibly dream or expect.

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