Not only am I a mom and an avid reader but I was also a classroom teacher and over the years have collected a variety of hints and techniques for helping children learn to read and improve their reading. Here are my 10 ways to help your child read:
1/ Let your child see you reading, not just novels and other personal reading for enjoyment but also how reading is an important tool in your life – making and reading lists, reading a recipe, reading the TV listings or movie showings, reading mail that you receive, and so on.
2) Use a wide variety of words, including higher vocabulary words that you think are too difficult for your child. They need to be exposed to them in order to learn them and apply them to their reading.
3) Point out environmental print and how it’s used. Read road signs and signs in stores aloud to your child as you navigate through. Read the signs on the shelves and bins of food at the grocery store, read the words on the boxes and packages to check for ingredients. One of the ways my daughter learned to read was by being highly motivated to read certain items around the house – the button that said PLAY on the VCR, the button that said POWER on the computer or ON for the TV.
4) Add to the environmental print by placing signs and labels around your house. Label shelves in your child’s bedroom, cabinets in the kitchen, and so on. You can start with signs that have both the pictures and the words on them and then gradually switch them out for text only signs. Get your child involved in the making of the signs – they can practise writing the words or make the pictures for them. A bonus to this is that everyone will be clear on exactly where items belong and can help with putting them away – no more “But I don’t know where it goes” excuses!
5) Expand on the book experience by making crafts or recipes to go along with the books you’re reading. You could actually make green eggs and ham for breakfast or a rainbow fish to hang in their bedroom window. You can also take some favourite stories and act them out yourselves or by using puppets. Or go on a related field trip – perhaps after reading a book about bears you can head to the zoo to see them in person!
6) Instead of just answering your child’s questions, pull out a book or go on a computer and look up the answers together. This again reinforces the value of reading.
7) Make your own books. Let your child dictate if they’re unable to write or you can spell the words they need as they write them on their own. Most children are quite motivated to be able to read a book they’ve written themselves! Or surprise them with a story you wrote for them – especially if it’s about them or a beloved toy or something else important to them!
8) Sing a lot. Read a lot of poems and nursery rhymes (think Dr. Seuss or things like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). The rhythm in these help children develop and learn the rhythm of speech and can improve their reading.
9) We all want our kids to read the books labelled as “educational” but they need to be motivated by the reading material too! A comic book or book about a favourite character or movie thrown in here and there can help with reluctant readers.On that note, let your child have some choices. Take them to the library or bookstore and allow them to pick out some of their own books.
10) Read aloud to your children – even once they can read independently, it’s important that they still hear language being modeled to them and they need to be challenged by books that they aren’t yet ready to handle. Pick some that are interesting to your children but above their independent reading level and read a few pages or a chapter to them every day if you can.
What other tips do you have for helping kids read?