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If your children are at the age of learning to read chances are that they love games. My sons favorite game is go fish. He’s not as interested in learning new words as he is in playing go fish. So the solution seemed simple. We made a game of go fish, but with our own homemade cards that have the words he is learning to read on them, then we named it something else that is fun. You can call it whatever you want, we call it go wild, because he finds that name exciting. He became even more interested when he found out that he got to choose some of his favorite words to include in the game, we also had some of the cards with his name on them and did this with his siblings names. You can add your pet names, favorite animals, silly words, favorite color. Each player gets to have 6 or 7 cards and because the kids playing are young anyway, they are usually content even if everyone can see each others cards, all that really matters is that they are learning to read the words on their cards by playing the game.

Then just watch next time when your child reads a book and realizes he/she knows so many new words without even trying. One thing that we did is we took a new book that we were going to read, and went through it and made some cards with the words from that book, then played the game each day for a week or so, then had him read the new book…result…instant confidence boost. Confidence is such a HUGE part of your child learning to read. As it is spelled out in my earlier articles .. as one of the main reasons why the way public schools present common core is so damaging.

Keep in mind when your children are learning to read that music exposure is so important to help your child keep the part of their brain that they will use to read even before they are old enough to read yet. If a part of the brain is not used by a certain age it will begin to go away according to brain studies on early childhood brain development. Having your child learn a basic instrument from an early age is also very helpful. Try starting with a drum a piano or a marimba, just start with teaching them to keep a beat and to find the beat or beats to simple songs and go from there. If they are no longer little and haven’t done this, don’t get discouraged, it’s still beneficial to start now. Pray for any parts of the brain that have “gone away” as it is put in early childhood brain development classes… pray that those parts of the brain will be replenished. I have personally seen this happen, and seen children who seemed to be beyond help learn amazing things, so don’t give up.

So parents… keep up the good work!

Special note: For younger kids,  you can do this with letters from the alphabet. We did some capital letters and some lower case and matched them accordingly, then made the sound the letter made as well as naming the letter when asking others for it.  It helps keep them much more interested when the note cards are different colors. Then we got out the dry erase board and wrote the letter on it that was being asked for and everyone shouted out words that started with that letter which were then written on the dry erase board…. our whole family plays this together, even teenagers, making it more thrilling for younger kids. They have so much more interest in this kind of thing when others act interested as well, so pep talks with your teenagers before hand can be a big help. Mixing it up and having a place set for a stuffed toy to play and having the stuffed toys be played by other siblings also gets the kids really into it so they are busting up laughing at the funny voices that their favorite stuffed toy just asked for the capital N card… this is such a hit in our house, the kids actually ask to set up the game each night…. which is a far cry from the forced drills we were used to in our public school upbringing  when we were kids… oh we can teach so much better when we have such personal interest in the learning taking place, because it’s our own children! And yes, public and private schools need more teachers who actually care so much to make kindergarten and first grade such a thrilling non-monotonous place to be, so raise your own kids up be those future teachers.

Spreading the cards out on the ground for a matching game is another fun thing to do with the cards.

There are some fun learning apps for smart phones with similar games, but I found that most of them require payment after about 60 seconds of playing and a few of them actually taught in incorrect way, such as teaching the child to sound out the word ice with the short i sound….what a disaster this must be for kids who are left alone  with these games and don’t know any better, to be taught incorrectly. Thankfully my son brought it to me and said mom this game is trying to tell me that ice is sounded out i-ck-eh…it’s ice mom, not ickeh… these games are really great sometimes, but sometimes not. But also keep in mind that the sensory learning part of the brain when learning with these types of tools is being completely unused and to much screen time, even if it is learning time can be detrimental for children’s attachment process as well as learning process. It is taught in early childhood brain development classes that a more detached person who has less capability of forming proper attachment is more likely to struggle in life and more capable of hurting others without remorse. So be careful with how much digital learning you allow in your home. Some is great, but too much is really dangerous for their brain development. Also, the more sensory learning is being used in a helpful way while learning , the more it will stick…. wow, that’s another article…. play dough letters, drawing letters in the sand etc… you see them do this with autistic kids, but every kid benefits from this kind of sensory learning.  So yes, go sit in the mud and draw letters with a stick and laugh and play while singing the letters and your child will learn in a way that will “stick” in their brains so much more powerfully then in a stale classroom.

Please comment with your ideas on how to make this game even more fun or beneficial.