Teaching a child how to read is one of the greatest joys of parenting. Unfortunately however, I often find that many parents do not teach their children to read at home because they get stuck with the question “How can I teach my child to read at home?”
This article is my attempt at helping parents understand the basic steps that they need to take to teach a child how to read.
At what age should a child learn to read?
Every child learns how to read at a different age. And there is no cut off age before which a child should not be introduced to books.
By age 3 – most children should be able to listen to stories and be able to retell them in their own words if they have heard the story enough times. They should have developed an interest in exploring books on their own when they find them lying around.
By age 4 – most children recognize familiar letters and words like their own names and other familiar words on hoardings or on product labels.
By age 5 – most children can read simple words in a story. They can also write some easy words.
What can you do to teach your child reading at home?
Create an interest in books
- Read yourself
- Keep books lying around the house for your child to find and pick up through the day
- When you plan an outing – plan to go to libraries and book stores
- Attend book reading sessions in preference to other activities
- Read aloud to your child every single day
- Ask your child to read to you (pretend reading). It doesn’t matter that your child is not reading. It is enough that your child believes she/he can readAlso read How To Get Your Child Interested In Reading This Vacation
Build language skills
- If you want your child to learn to read English – speak in English to her/him
- Read a sentence from a story and ask a simple question every time. For example – “A small rabbit lived in a jungle. Where did the rabbit live? He lived in a jungle.”
- Once you have read the story encourage your child to retell the story in her/his own words. You can tell your child to “read” the story to her/his favorite toys when she/he is putting them to bed. It is enough if your child holds the book and pretends to read. Don’t worry that she/he can’t really read.
- Discuss the characters and what they do at times other than reading time – to increase the impact of the story. “Oh look its raining – let’s quickly run to the house like the lion ran to his cave in yesterday’s story”
- As you read – ask your child “ What do you think happened next?”
- Encourage your child to use her his imagination to change the ending of the story. What would you have done if you were the rabbit?
How to teach your child reading skills
- Teach your child how to hold the book the right way up
- Help your child to learn how to turn pages in the right direction
- Follow the words as you read with your finger – so that your child learns to read from left to right and top to bottom
- Look for information in books. “Look at this picture – it looks like the rabbit is saying something to the lion. Let’s open the book and find out what he said.”
- Ask your child to point out the words with her/his finger a you read.Also read 10 Games To Improve Your Child’s Reading Skills
Help your child to recognize alphabets
- Point out common words whenever you see them. Like “happy birthday” at birthday parties. Slowly point out the letters in the words
- Help your child read her/his name. For example when she/he receives a letter from a grandparent or an invite for a birthday party.
- Help your child read out some items on a tiny shopping list when you go shopping. Write the name of a favorite food in large print like “Orange” and ask your child to read it out and then go find oranges and put it in the shopping cart.
Teach your child sounds of letters in the alphabet
- Read rhymes and rhyming stories so that your child learns that certain groups of letters make up a certain sound. Like “Pat put on his hat and picked up his bat and then waved to his cat” That tells the child that the letters a and t make up the sound at
- Read using syllables. So read cat as c – a – t and make up the word cat in the end. Read with the sounds of the letters and not the names of the letters to avoid confusion in the mind of the child.
- Blend sounds for fun. Make the sound Brrrrrrrrrr and then write it out for fun on a board. Read it out for fun several times a day whenever you pass by the board. Move on to saying Brrrrr – bread followed by Brrrrrrr – brush. Do the same with other blends.
- Take a blend of letters that makes a sound and then change the first letter to make a different word. For example – pig can become big fig dig and so on. Turn it into a game and make new words.
- Teach the sounds of the alphabets in a song
- Let your child write the alphabets on a misty car window or on a used plate after eating dal chawal or smear some tomato ketchup on a plate and trace the letters in the sauce
- Let your child find plastic alphabets that you have hidden in a pile of sand and identify them
- Let your child write the alphabets on a blackboard.
- Trace the letters out on sand paper
- Keep repeating the letters
- Help your child to learn a few letters that feature in the words of a favorite story book so that your child can quickly read that story. The feeling of accomplishment and confidence from reading that book will prompt your child to learn more letters quickly.
Teach sight words
- Teach your child how to read words like “yes” and “come” and “the”
- It is best if you can teach your child all the sight words in a story – then she/he can read it out her/himself.
- Use flash cards to play a memory game with sight words written on cards and turned over. Do only one or two words at a time to keep it easy and fun.
How to teach children to read using phonics
- Teach diagraphs first. This means that teach your child the sounds of ch sh wh th first. These help the child to read a lot of words
- Teach glued letters. Teach the sounds of a combination of letters – like ink ing all and so on . These again help in reading several words.
- Teach blends. Teach the sounds of a combination of letters like bl tr gr and so on. Knowing these will help the child decode and read many more words
- Gradually introduce other common blends.
Before you start teaching your child reading – remember this –
- Do not hesitate to repeat things over and over again.
- Do not ask questions after you teach – just keep teaching with the faith that learning is happening somewhere.
- Keep reading to your child for fun and to bond with your child. Never read with expectation that your child will learn to read quickly. If you have a motive in mind – you will soon begin to feel disappointed and frustrated.
Are you teaching your child to read?
What has been your experience with teaching your child reading?
Do you have an experience to share that will help or encourage other parents? Do share your experience in comments.
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