We often assume that waiting for formal lessons until the age of six means that there is nothing to do to help our child prepare for reading. However, Charlotte Mason gave many suggestions for "preparing the ground for reading" in her first volume, Home Education.
"This is not reading, but it is preparing the ground for reading; words will be no longer unfamiliar, perplexing objects, when the child meets with them in a line of print.” Home Education, page 203
When a child is interested in learning how to read, there are many things that we can do to help them prepare. The key is that the activities that we present should feel like a game and allow for the child to lead the way rather than the grown-up.
Children as young as two might show interest in learning the alphabet. Have a box of lovely letters readily available for them to play with. Present the letter as a sound rather than a name. The sound is more important that the name! After your child learns the sounds, they can begin writing the alphabet. We recommend gross-motor letter writing first, using the arm muscles to “write” the letter rather than the muscles of the fingers. Ideas for this type of "writing" are painting, painting with water on the sidewalk, sand tray, and a dollop of shaving cream on a table.
Something that surprises people when they learn about Charlotte Mason's approach to reading is that she recommended introducing phonics patterns to children before they start that official first lesson. Simple phonics patterns, are fun for many children and within the scope of things that are developmentally appropriate for the under six crowd. Learning digraphs like -ch, building simple word families like cat, sat, and mat, and playing verbal rhyming games will probably satisfy an eager-to-learn child!
Your Thinking Love podcast hostesses think that since children are born persons, they may be ready to learn to read at a time that is later or earlier than their peers. Charlotte Mason thought that children should be allowed to grow upon their own lines, meaning develop at their own pace, and we think that it is no exception with reading instruction.
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Home Education, Charlotte Mason's first volume
Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons (Amy's reading curriculum choice)
The Mindful Alphabet (Leah's Charlotte Mason-style pre-reading lesson guide)
Phonics, Whole Language, And Charlotte Mason Reading Lessons from My Little Robins
Teaching Reading the Charlotte Mason Way: Getting Started from Around the Thicket
3 thoughts on “Preparing the Ground for Reading: Reading Readiness”
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Hi Leah, I have a preschooler that I’m wanting to start teaching, following Charlotte Mason, which my sister recommended. I am a musician and I was wondering if there are any resources for teaching Charlotte Mason style while incorporating a love of music? Thanks so much,
Hi Tim, you might check out our recent episode on Charlotte Mason Music: https://thinkinglove.education/2021/10/21/charlotte-mason-homeschool-music/ Hope that helps!