Learning to Read

Neurologist Judy Willis, MD, MEd, shares advice for parents on the best method for teaching your child to love reading and want to learn how to read more
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Learning to Read

Reading is something that we want our children to love and many of us love reading, and yet our children don't. Well first of all, why don't they like reading? A lot of it has to do with another neuromyth. There was this heavy phonics movement and if you didn't learn by phonics, then you weren't learning the right way. So kids got turned off repeating letter sounds and decoding, but they can be reunited with reading. Even with computer games and all the things around them, if you let their interests guide them. For example, if you give a child a new toy, a toy that has directions or a new game that has instructions and they say no I can do it. They won't want to read the instructions first because they are boring. So here they are, they have something they want to play, but they don't want to read the instructions. All right now we are getting to the motivation part. They go as far as they can without the instructions, then they want to know something because they can't do it any further. They can't assemble it. They can't follow along a game. Now reading is a value. They want to know what is in the words. That's the first step. Then it comes to the point of whatever their interests are. Take them to a great magazine store, where even the youngest child sees lots of pictures of boats or cars or motorcycles or dolls or dogs or whatever it is they love, there's a magazine for it. Magazines have pictures. They also have words. And when they find a picture they like, they're going to want to know what it says underneath the picture. That builds the plain of, reading is something I want. When they want it, they'll get to love it and they'll transition to even books without pictures.

Neurologist Judy Willis, MD, MEd, shares advice for parents on the best method for teaching your child to love reading and want to learn how to read more


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Judy Willis, MD, MEd


After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Judy Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine where she was awarded her medical degree. She remained at UCLA and completed a medical residency and neurology residency, including chief residency. She practiced neurology for 15 years before returning to university to obtain her teaching credential and master's of education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then taught in elementary and middle school for 10 years.

Dr. Judy Willis is an authority on brain research and its applications regarding learning. With the unique background as a parent, neurologist, classroom teacher, and neuro-educator she writes extensively for parenting magazines and professional educational journals. Dr. Willis has written six books for parents and educators about applying brain research to parenting and teaching.

Dr. Willis is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Education, University of California and gives presentations to parents and educators nationally and internationally about how to help children learn joyfully and successfully. She is on the Board of Directors of the Hawn Foundation, dedicated to helping children improve academic performance and acquire vital social and emotional skills. In 2011, she was honored by Edutopia, as a “Big Thinker on Education”.

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