Teaching a Child to Read

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It’s six o’clock on a summer morning. Most teenagers are asleep. But not me. I take a shower, grab breakfast, and I’m out the door before my parents leave for work.
I arrive and see two sleepy kids munching bagels and fruit at the breakfast table. As they continue eating, they get more and more energized, and I realize what a busy day I have ahead of me. Suddenly, I’m bombarded with eager questions. “Can we go to the library today? I have library books to return. On the way home, can we please stop by the park? I got a new art set for my birthday. Can we paint?”
For three months of the summer, it is the same routine. I wake up with a slew of activities to keep two rambunctious kids occupied during the day, and the kids burn through the entire list of activities before eleven o’clock.
So one day, growing tired of the same old routine, I tried something different with Julia and Nathaniel. Being only four years old, they haven’t started school yet, but are still eager to learn. They love to hear stories from me, but this time I have them read me a story.
I read the first page, pointing at each word as I say it. Soon, instead of just listening to the stories, they are looking at the words on the page. A few days later, Julia points to the first word on the next page and tries to sound it out. Nathaniel tries to help his sister with the pronunciation. Together, they figure it out, and ask me what the word means. I don’t answer them right away. So they turn back to the book, looking at the pictures and re-reading the sentence. After a short pause, they have a guess. Proudly, I’m able to tell them their guess is correct.
By the end of summer, they are starting to read on their own. When I come back next summer, they are reading chapter books. As a nanny to these children, I’m grateful to be afforded the opportunity to do more than just drive them around and make lunch. I’m able to make a contribution to their reading and share with them something I enjoyed so much growing up.
As a nanny to young children and a tutor to my high school peers, I realize the importance of sharing my knowledge and experience with others. In the University of Tennessee community, I hope to learn from the knowledge and culture of my classmates, and share with them my experiences.





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