Learning to read with pleasure: Interactive and playful. That’s how we teach learning to read at Dutch for Children. With success!

Learning to read is central to group 3 (children ages six and up) in Dutch for Children. On the first day of school, your child learns to read his first word. Moreover, at the end of group 3, he should know all letters (sounds) and should already be able to read fluently. This is quite a challenge.

However, reading should not feel like a chore in grade 3 or when your child is ready to learn to read. It should be an adventure, full of play and discovery. That’s why at Dutch for Children, we believe that learning to read should be fun!

We approach learning to read more like an adventure, where children dive into engaging stories and embark on exciting journeys full of imagination and knowledge.

We combine our lessons on the power of storytelling with interactive activities. This is to captivate young readers and stimulate their love of books. Through games, quizzes, and hands-on discovery, students develop their reading skills while having fun.

In this blog, we take a closer look at how interactive teaching, play, and discovery can be the key to getting children excited about learning to read. We do this by showing how games, technology, independent reading strategies, real-life experiences, and parent engagement can contribute to engaging learning.

We will start with a brief explanation of how a child learns to read so that you, as parents, can gain a better understanding of this.

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Learning to read, the process

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Learning to read is an exciting journey for children between mostly 6 and 12 years old. This process comprises several steps, laying a solid foundation for continued and hopefully lifelong reading.

In the early stages, teachers focus on phonemic awareness, teaching children to recognize and play with individual sounds in spoken words. This forms the basis for phonemic awareness, where they learn how these sounds are linked to letters.

Phonemic awareness is the realization that words are made up of individual sounds and that those sounds can be linked to written letters or letter combinations.

They then explore decoding simple words and putting sounds together to form words.

As children progress, they refine their skills and increase their vocabulary. Vocabulary consists of the total number of words a student knows. For words that children use themselves, we speak of an active vocabulary. Words that they understand but do not use fall under receptive vocabulary.

They learn to recognize patterns in words, such as common letter combinations and prefixes and suffixes. This helps them decipher more complex words and understand their meaning.

Parallel to this is the development of reading comprehension, where children learn not only to read the words but also to understand their meaning and context. It is all about understanding, grasping, comprehending texts, getting through, and empathizing.

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The importance of learning to read from engagement and enjoyment

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When children have positive associations with reading, it becomes not just a task but a source of joy and curiosity. By making lessons engaging and interactive, teachers can create an environment in which children want to discover and improve their own reading skills.

Encouraging the enjoyment of reading through engaging and appropriate books is essential to keep their interest alive. The learning process of reading is one of growth, discovery, and affirmation. As a teacher, it is truly a privilege to guide children through this process in this way.

By incorporating fun into the learning process, children can maintain their natural curiosity and enthusiasm. When they have fun, they are more likely to participate and perform better actively. Reading thus becomes an adventure they want to keep exploring.

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Integrating play and interaction provides immediate benefits

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Games and interactive activities serve as bridges between learning and fun. They actively engage children and provide a stimulating environment to develop language skills.

During reading lessons, teachers can use educational games that focus on phonemic awareness, letter recognition, and word formation. Think letter bingo, word searches, or interactive stories in which children themselves play a role. This approach encourages not only reading skills but also critical thinking.

Some examples of games that we use at Dutch for Children, but that you can also do together at home are listed below.

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Play games with letters and words

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“I spy with my little eye something beginning with…” and it starts with an m. Don’t call the letters by their name, but pronounce the sound. So don’t say ’em’ but ‘mmm’.

Word snake: one person says a word, and the next person says a word beginning with the last letter of the first word, for example, car – stork – diamond – telephone – nothing – shell.

Chunk words into syllables, such as the names of family members. Clap your hands at them. For example: We are going to o-ma.

Chop and paste words with sounds, such as: grab your j-a-s. You can also make this a game; they have to grab what they say.

While looking at a picture book, give each other assignments. For example, find a picture that starts with an ‘m’.

Rhyming words: together, make as many words as possible that rhyme.

Play with letters and words: make a shopping list, “write” a card, type, and name letters on the phone, etc.

Other games include, for example, gallows, boggle, Scrabble Junior, word quartets, etc.

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Working with fantasy stories

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Working with fantasy stories not only literally captures the imagination but also provides direct engagement and interaction between reader and listener.

One way of using a fantasy story is for the teacher to read aloud while the children draw. The children are allowed to use their own imagination. When children ask if something is okay, the teacher replies, ”Everything is okay. Anything goes.” Stimulating the imagination is the only goal.

You can also let a fantasy story develop together. For example, the teacher kicks off a story, and the student gets to make up the next bit. If a student finds that difficult, the teacher helps him with specific questions. Another way is to use cards with pictures. The teacher and student(s) take turns drawing a card and making up part of the story based on the picture.

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Using technology to enrich learning to read

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In this digital age, technology and learning can go hand in hand. Interactive apps, e-books, and educational websites can add an extra dimension to learning to read. These tools offer visual and auditory stimulation and are often tailored to different reading levels. They can bring the text to life with animations, sound effects, and interactive elements. They make learning accessible and engaging, and they allow children to grow at their own pace.

In addition, digital tools can be adaptive, allowing them to adjust to each child’s level and needs. Using technology in the classroom can increase motivation and enthusiasm for reading. At the same time, the child also imperceptibly develops more digital skills.

At Dutch for Children, we use Junior Einstein stories, which are engaging, level-based, and interactive for the children, among other things. Also recommended is —an app for preschoolers to learn to read and write. The app Reading Train is designed for children who are just beginning to learn to read. The app contains the same words that beginning readers learn in school. Children can read the stories in the app on their own.

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Strategies for promoting independent reading

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As children develop their reading skills, it is important to increase their confidence and encourage them to read independently. This can be accomplished through appropriate book choices where the content matches their interests. Some people also stress that it should be an appropriate reading level, but if a child is interested and “into the story,” the book may well be a level higher.

An important task for us is to guide our students in where to find easy, fun, and appropriate books and in learning how to pick a book. Here at Dutch for Children, we often enlist the help of parents since our students do not always live in places where they have easy access to Dutch books.

Teachers can also set reading goals and introduce rewards to keep motivation high. Encouraging daily reading habits and discussing readings with the teacher promotes not only self-confidence but also understanding of what they are reading.

During the vacations, we at Dutch for Children also always give reading tips, reading bingo, and samples of children’s books spoken to the children. It would be a shame to inhibit that reading enthusiasm just because they are free from class.

Reading bingo cards can be found everywhere online: teacher Bumblebee (juf Bijtje) often has very nice cards.

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Integrating experiences into everyday life

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Learning to read is certainly. not limited to the online classroom: it can be integrated into everyday life. Teachers can encourage children to read signs on the street, make shopping lists, and follow recipes. These practical applications reinforce the idea that reading is an invaluable skill in real life.

For example, Dutch for Children also lets children cook during Dutch class. Read how we do this and what it has to do with learning to read here.

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Involving parents in learning to read

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Involving parents in their children’s reading adventure is essential for a successful learning experience. Parents play a valuable role in supporting the reading process at home. They can encourage their children to read regularly by reading a lot themselves and also occasionally inviting them to pick up a book for themselves. They can help choose books and, of course, talk to them a lot about what they read.

It is also important to keep parents informed about reading activities and reading goals at school so that they can contribute to their children’s learning. So, we regularly update parents on where we are in reading instruction. Where parents can reinforce at home, we provide that as advice. Parents appreciate our practical tips and strategies.

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5 tips to help your child

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1. Bring reading pleasure

Make a celebration of the trip to the library or the reading time. For example, let your child stay up longer on weekends to read. Use one of the fun reading bingo games to read together in the funniest or craziest places. The more fun a child has reading, the more he will read.

2. Read together or read aloud for 10-15 minutes every day

Try to read or read to your child together for 10-15 minutes every day, preferably at a set time. Reading briefly every day is more effective than an hour once a week. Wait a while before helping or improving. Give your child space to read by discovery. But again, don’t let your child struggle for too long. If your child reads a difficult word correctly or corrects a mistake yourself, be sure to signal that you approve. A nice ending to the reading-aloud moment works very well: read a bit more aloud yourself or imitate a part of the story with a ‘voice’.

3. Interactive reading

This method is great fun to do together. It is more than just asking questions about the story. You start a conversation with your child(ren) about the book. You do this before, during, and after reading aloud. It increases language development and vocabulary and gets the children thinking. There is a lot of interaction between reader and listeners: this way, reading aloud is more like reading together.

Read in detail how to approach this way of reading together here.

4. Stage Reading

Read a story together and divide the roles. Your child and you both make up a voice to go with the role and read aloud in the same way. You may also need a narrator. You can switch that role as well. Of course, the book has to lend itself to this a bit. There are also books written for stage reading. ,

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Learning to read with pleasure works forever!

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Children are engaged and motivated when fun and self-discovery are integrated into instruction. Making learning fun and engaging allows children to maintain their natural curiosity and develop their own love of learning to read.

By integrating the interactive activities, games, technology, strategies, real-life experiences, and parent involvement mentioned above, teachers can create a rich learning environment. This is an environment where children can feel valued, learn to read at their own pace and in their own way, and thus build confidence in their reading skills.

Let’s work together to build a generation that not only reads to learn but also reads because this is where they get relaxation, discovery, and enjoyment.

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More practical tips about reading to your child

Finally, a gift for every parent

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