How to Help Your Child Learn to Read
Learning to read is a challenge for many children and taking the time to sit down with your child for just 15 to 20 minutes a day can improve your child’s reading skills drastically. Learning to read starts before a child actually understands the written words in a book. Listening to stories, hearing the rhythm and flow of the sentences, and the repetitive syntax of the language all contribute to a child’s ability to learn to read. The following will review some basics to remember when reading with your child as your child is learning to read.
Learning to Read
When reading at home with your children, remember that they have specific interest and can become interested in reading if you can relate the stories to their interest. Choose books that will open your child to reading through shared experiences such as places you have visited, toys or television series your children enjoy such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, G.I. Joe, Spiderman, Dr. Seuss, Dora, Walt Disney Books, or Barbie, or books that have a simple yet interesting fictional story.
Step 1: As you sit down with your child, look at the pictures on the cover of the book. Discuss what you think the book might be about and how the picture often relates to the story in some way. It could have the main character(s) depicted on the front, or simply the setting of the story such as a house, farm, or city. For example, the Barbie book below shows Barbie, Stacie, and a small boy on crutches. The title “The Show Must Go On” indicates this story might be about how a main character in a play broke his leg, but the show must still go on. Encourage your child to read the title and think about the picture before you begin reading the book.
Step 2: Read the title and the author while pointing to the written words. Show your child how to find who has written the book and even the illustrator’s name. You can discuss how some books are written and illustrated by the same person, but often there are two people who work together to make the book complete.
Step 3: As you go through the first couple of pages, you can talk about what you see and what information is on each page. Ask your child questions such as, “Where do I start reading?” and “Which way do I turn the pages?”
Step 4: As you begin reading the story, use tracking as a way to show your child where the words are coming from. Tracking is simply running your finger along under the words as you read them. This can help your child to begin to recognize sight words throughout the story and understand the proper starting points for each page (left to right).
Step 5: Ask your child questions when you read through a book for the first time. Questions should focus on what your child is anticipating in the story such as, “What do you think will happen next?” or “How do you think (the character) felt when that happened?” or “Did you like the ending?” This will help your child to begin thinking about the story rather than simply listening to the words.
Step 6: Read the book again and again, each time allowing your child to take more control of the reading. Have them read small sections or specific words that they are learning. As your child grows in confidence he or she will want to read whole pages.
Remember, learning to read takes a great deal of practice and repetition. Be patient with your child as he or she is learning to read, and praise your child for any and all attempts to read. Talk with your child’s teacher if you have questions or concerns. Have fun, sit back, and enjoy the story because before long your children will be off to college!!!