Before starting to teach their own children at home, most people don’t give reading instruction much thought.
Contrary to popular belief, reading does not come naturally to everyone. It is a complicated subject that calls for the appropriate instruction of many skills and techniques, including phonics (understanding the relationship between letters and sounds) and phonemic awareness.
The good news is that while reading is a difficult task in and of itself, developing these abilities is a relatively easy and straightforward process. Try the simple techniques listed below to teach kids to read while making it a fun and rewarding experience.
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What Age Do Children Learn To Read?
Reading to kids is one of my greatest passions, especially as a former first-grade teacher! I didn’t want parents to feel under pressure that their 3-year-old needs to start reading, though, as most kids don’t actually begin “reading” until they are around 6 years old (which is higher than the target age range for my blog).). Nevertheless, whether or not your child is ready to read, the information provided below is general knowledge that is helpful for kids of all ages. You shouldn’t use all of these techniques at once, nor should you anticipate that your child will be able to use them all right away. Reading is a skill that develops over time, so the advice provided below is only for you to use when you think your child is ready.
When your child is prepared to start reading, you should look for a methodical and explicit program that teaches phonics and phonemic awareness. This is crucial because learning to read is similar to deciphering a cipher (and, despite what the post’s title might imply, it is NOT simple). The best way to ensure that all children learn the code is to explicitly teach it to them rather than relying on them to figure it out for themselves. Furthermore, keep in mind that even though the suggestions below are categorized as “steps,” they are not necessarily listed in that order or in significance. The details you will discover here are merely a guide to assist you in understanding how each of the elements of reading fit together for your pre-reader.
Ten Simple Steps To Teach Child To Read At Home
Start With Uppercase Letters
If they all have a distinct appearance, practicing letter formation is much simpler! We teach uppercase letters to children who have not yet started formal schooling for this reason.
Even though lowercase letters are the most typical format for letters (if you open a book at any page, the majority of the letters will be in lowercase), uppercase letters are easier to distinguish from one another and, consequently, easier to identify.
Think about it—“b” and “d” look remarkably similar! However, it is much simpler to distinguish between “B” and “D.” So starting with uppercase letters will aid in your child’s understanding of the fundamentals of letter identification and, ultimately, reading.
Engaging your child’s sense of touch can be particularly helpful when teaching them uppercase letters, according to our research. If you want to give it a try, you might think about purchasing textured paper, such as sandpaper, and cutting out the shapes of the uppercase letters.
The letter should be placed in your child’s hands after having them place their hands behind their backs. They can infer the letter they’re holding by using their sense of touch! With magnetic letters, you can play the same game.
Keep On Letter Sounds Over Letter Names
It used to be taught to us that “b” stands for “ball.” However, the sound of the letter B changes when you pronounce the word ball as opposed to just the letter B. A young child may find it difficult to understand that idea.
We advise instructing them on the sounds connected to each letter of the alphabet rather than just the letter names. You could, for instance, clarify that B makes the /b/ sound (pronounced exactly as it does when you say the word ball out loud).
Children can start sounding out short words once they have firmly established a connection between a few letters and their sounds. A child can sound out bat and tab by mastering the sounds for B, T, and A. The number of words your child can sound out will increase as more connections are made between letters and sounds.
Does this imply, then, that if your child started learning by associating formal alphabet letter names with words, they won’t go on to associating sounds and letters or learning to read? Of course not; we are merely suggesting this procedure as a teaching technique that may aid some children in making the transition from letter sounds to words.
According to research, children who have a solid foundation in phonics—the relationship between sounds and symbols—tend to grow into stronger readers over time.
A phonetic approach to reading teaches a child how to read words that they (or an adult) have not yet memorized by blending the sounds as they go, letter by letter and sound by sound.
Once children reach a certain level of automatization, they can sound out words almost immediately and only use decoding when the words are longer. The best way to teach phonics is explicitly, sequentially, and methodically, which is the approach HOMER takes.
Our HOMER Learn & Grow app might be just what you need if you need assistance teaching your child to read phonics. HOMER makes learning enjoyable by providing your child with a tested reading pathway!
Contrary to popular belief, talking is not just a speech-related skill. Your child is a sponge. Everything you say, even the words you wish they hadn’t heard, is being absorbed by them at all times.
You can help your child’s vocabulary grow by talking to them frequently and using their storytelling and listening abilities. Additionally, it can help them learn new words and how to use them, help them form sentences, and teach them how to use context clues when listening to someone speak about a topic they may not be very familiar with.
Talking gives you both the chance to share and create memories that you’ll treasure forever, and all of these skills are very beneficial for your child as they begin to read.
Balance Sight Words And Phonics
Sight words are another crucial component of reading instruction for your child. These are common words that are frequently misspelled and cannot be decoded (sounded out).
Sight words should be memorized because we don’t want to undo the phonics learning your child has already accomplished. But keep in mind that many young children find learning sight words difficult.
Therefore, if you want to give your child a head start on their reading journey, it’s best to devote the majority of your time to learning and practicing the knowledge and skills required to decode words.
Practice Shared Reading
Consider asking your child to repeat words or sentences to you while you read to them occasionally, while you follow along with your finger.
If your child has trouble understanding a certain word, there’s no need to end your reading session entirely. A brief explanation of the word’s pronunciation or definition is sufficient. Split reading-aloud sessions with your kid are an additional option. You can read one line to beginning readers before asking them to read the next. It’s beneficial to read one page to older kids and then let them read the next page.
In order to encourage your child to read well and frequently, doing this will help them feel capable and confident. Your child becomes more accustomed to reading’s natural flow thanks to this technique. They will start to concentrate on the words they are reading and become more involved with the book in front of them as they happily look at the pictures and listen to the story.
Rereading books can also be beneficial. It enables kids to form a connection with the story, gain a deeper understanding of the text’s words, turn familiar words into “known” words that are added to their vocabulary, and learn more about the words in the text.
Keep It Light
We’re about halfway through the list and would like to gently remind you and your child not to put any pressure on them to read.
Exploring the real and imagined worlds through text, pictures, and illustrations is what reading is all about. When it comes to reading, it’s preferable for your child to be at ease and concentrated on what they’re learning as opposed to cramming in a stressful session at the end of a long day.
While consistency is always beneficial, we advise prioritizing quality over quantity. Although fifteen minutes might seem like a brief period of time, studies have shown that using HOMER’s reading pathway for fifteen minutes each day can boost early reading scores by 74%!
Finding precisely what will keep your child interested in and engaged in learning may also take some time. That’s okay, just shake it off and try something else if it’s not enjoyable, lighthearted, or fun for you and your child.
Read Unconventional Materials
The same way that playing word games can aid in your child’s literacy development, o too can encourage them to read aloud rather than from actual books!
If you’re interested in doing this, think about forming and shaping letters or words out of PlayDoh, clay, paint, or sand that is safe to use indoors. Another option is to put magnetic letters in a big pot. Pull a letter from the pot and have young children try to name the sound it makes if they are beginning learners. When teaching slightly older students, ask them to name a word that starts with the same sound or gather a group of letters that form a word.
You can scale these exercises to make them a little more difficult as your child gains proficiency. Also, keep in mind to enjoy yourself!
Play Games About Word
It’s not necessary to limit reading to just books in order to get your child interested. Without having to read an entire story at once, word games are a fantastic way to keep your child’s attention.
All you need for one of our favorite reading games is a bunched-up sock and a stack of Post-It notes. Sight words or words your child can sound out should be written on separate Post-It notes for this activity. The notes should then adhere to the wall.
Then, having the bunched-up sock in their hands, your child can stand in front of the Post-Its. As soon as you say one of the words, your kid launches the sock ball in the direction of the matching Post-It note.
The most crucial thing you can do is to make learning enjoyable because every child learns at his or her own rate. Your child will develop a love of reading early on if you read to them frequently, vary the activities you choose, and occasionally let them choose their own books, giving them the best chance for reading success quickly.
Overall, we want you to take away the fact that there is no one right way to teach a child to read. What works for one of your neighbors’ kids might not work for yours, and that’s totally fine!
We most strongly recommend exercising patience, practicing a little every day, and emphasizing games and activities that let your child enjoy reading. Reading is all about enjoyment, discovery, and education!