In my blog, I wrote that phonics and reading are equally important. Once the child understands the basics of phonics, we should start to teach them to read a good systematic graded reader like the Ladybird key word reading scheme, or other good readers. As the child reads, we should encourage them to ask questions, and try to answer their questions as much as possible.
When I teach phonics, I always explain the meaning of the words to the child. Either by using real objects, or demonstrating the real actions. For example, when I taught the word "dip", I let my boy dip a real chocolate stick into milk. When I taught the word "smash", I let my boy smash a real biscuit. He liked that activities very much, and after that he always remember the meaning of the words.
My girl, who is one year older than my boy, attended Montessori phonics class. All they did in class were worksheets. The teacher did not make much of an effort to explain the meaning of the words. Nothing as fun as what we did at home.
She can read very fluently, and her level of understanding is excellent.
My advise is to setup a routine, let your child read at least a few pages a day. The best is to read one of the wonderful children’s classics. But great books are usually boring, if the child rejects the book, try more "fun" books like the Rainbow Fairy series
For me, I don’t really care whether the child finds a book boring. If I think the book is good, I will make my girl read it. The fact is that when she enters primary/secondary school, there will be a lot more "boring" textbooks which she needs to study. She will have to study that no matter how boring it is. The period around 5 and 6 years old is a good time to develop the discipline to learn something "serious and boring", about 15 minutes a day will do no harm. Fortunately, my girl loves the books she has read.
The key to writing well, is to read widely. My girl started to write in sentences at 5 years old, and she has been writing cute little stories on her own initiative, without being taught at all.
Some suggestions to all parents about how to make reading books more interesting.
When I make my girl read children’s classics, I try my best to make it more interesting for her, by including special activities.
For example, when reading the Little House on the Prairie, we actually made a real log house together ! Quite similar to the one built by the father in the book.
The picture shows the little log house we made together.
Most of the time I took the easy way, which is showing the movie based on the book. I let my girl watch the Charlie and the Chocolate movie which she likes very much. Then as she read the book, she could relate to the scenes in the movie.
When she was reading the Wizard of Oz, I also tried show her the old movie starring Judy Garland. When I was playing the DVD on the TV, I called her to watch. She actually refused to watch the movie(which is very good with lovely song and dance sequences), because she was so engrossed in the book ! She said that the book is much more interesting than the movie, which is very true. At that moment I was pleasantly surprised, that a book can actually triumph over a movie .