So, you’ve been reading to your child and have decided to dive in and start teaching them to read themselves. You see them pointing at and sounding out words, asking questions, and leaning over to look at the page while you weave your stories. But actually starting the process of teaching your child to read can be tough.
Sure, it’s a memorable time, but you might find yourself wondering if you’re taking the right approach. After all, how do you know if you’re making it easier for him or her to learn? If you’re looking for some tips to help your child along, here are four to start with!
1. Continue Reading or Start Early
If your child is still a baby, that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start reading to them. Buying books and re-reading them to even very young infants can help them comprehend those words later on when it comes time for them to learn themselves. Likewise, if your child is already ready to start reading, don’t feel pressured to avoid “helping” them too much out of fear that you’ll hinder their learning process. Reading isn’t a sink or swim skill; rather, it’s a gradual one that requires a hands on approach.
If you see your child struggling with a few sentences, there is nothing wrong with taking over for a little while – they’ll continue to be attentive and will likely gain knowledge from simply listening. In addition, you should continue reading to them at bedtime or when they’re tired. Although they’re learning a new skill, you don’t want them to associate reading time with frustration or hard work. By continuing to pick up some of the slack, you’ll keep the learning process fresh and enjoyable.
2. Let Your Kids See You Reading
You are your child’s biggest influence and idol, so if they see you reading, they’re much more likely to be motivated to learn to do so themselves. Just like your child wants to talk on the phone, wear your shoes, and pretend to cook, drive, or go to work like an adult, they’ll want to read if they see you doing it regularly.
We know you’re likely short on time and may not have hours to set aside to indulge in a good novel every evening, but don’t let that stop you. Just reading the ingredients on a cereal box, a brochure, or an activity guide can be enough to spark your child’s interest and help them see reading as the essential skill it is.
3. Practice Writing and Oral Storytelling
By practicing writing letters and words, telling oral stories, and asking your child to tell you stories, you’ll be reinforcing words and phrases that could later come up in reading. Your child will find connections between the words in books and the words they’ve spoken and written. This 3-tier approach to literacy is a great way to ensure your child is always learning and practicing some language skills without tiring them out.
4. Discuss Ideas and Meaning
Once your child is getting the hang of things, introduce discussion to your reading sessions. Rather than just having her recite the words off the page, ask questions. Ask them to explain what they think the page meant, what feelings they have about it, and what ideas they took away from it. Reading is about more than recognition, it’s about comprehension too – and comprehension will be one of the most important skills they can have once they enter school. Not to mention, reading needs to be fun for it to stick, and turning a story into a conversation is a great way to keep kids engaged.