How Do You Teach Your Child to Read?

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Reading.

That magical thing that whisks you away with tales of lands near and far, right from your living room couch. For you, reading this is likely something you can now do automatically. But back in the day it probably wasn’t the case!

Learning to read is a fundamental part of a child’s development and success.

Father and daughter reading together

This is a skill they WILL use! We spend our days reading. Sometimes books, often articles or messages on social media or our cell phones, billboards as we drive down the freeway, instructions on how to cook our food, etc. We use our reading skills in some way every day!

How do you teach your child to read?

Discover 11 great ways here!

# 1 Read, Read, Read!

Read to or with your child every day.

It is SO important! There are many things to be gained through hearing someone read to you.

It will help your child to learn new words (expand their vocabulary), practice comprehension skills as you ask questions about the story, and hear how the story can be read by a fluent reader (that’s you!).

mother and child reading

In the beginning stages they will be sounding out a lot of words and the progress may feel slow for them, hearing how it can go smoothly can be encouraging and very helpful!

My husband and I started reading to our daughter before she was even born! We read to her every day and she LOVES books. At one, she obviously doesn’t read yet, but she loves to sit and turn the pages of her books, taking in all of the pictures and fun. It is one activity that keeps her attention for longer than a minute!


#2 Teach the Basics

Starting when your child is really young, let them be in charge of turning the pages.

As mentioned above, my daughter loves to turn each page and we sometimes get to read the whole page before its turned! She gets extra excited at times;)

This can also teach how to hold the book correctly and how to read it front to back (not upside down or in reverse!). Additionally, they can learn the difference between words and pictures.

boy pointing at words in a book

As your child grows, sweep your finger under the words as you read so they can follow along and understand we read from left to right. As they begin to be the reader, teach them to track their own reading by putting their finger under each word as they read it.


# 3 Practice the Alphabet

This may sound obvious, but learning the letter names and sounds of the alphabet will be a crucial part of learning how to read successfully!

alphabet letters

It would be wise to begin with a few at a time and build from there. You don’t have to go in alphabetical order. In fact, I’d recommend you don’t. Choose a few letters that can easily be put together to make words.

Helping your child feel moments of success early on will be highly encouraging to keep going! Click here for fun ideas on How to Teach the Alphabet; Mixing Things Up a Bit!


# 4 Use Songs and Nursery Rhymes to Build Phonemic Awareness.

Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear and work with different sounds. For example, the word ‘can’ has three separate sounds c/a/n.

Singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes provides a great opportunity for your child to hear the different sounds and parts of words.

The repetition and rhyming helps to build phonemic awareness, which is so important to their reading success. Sing along and recite things together, it will be time well spent for both making memories

humpty dumpty (nursery rhyme) hot air balloon

# 5 Make Your Own Flashcards

Create flashcards using the letters of the alphabet. You can cut each letter apart and use the letters to create the words as you say the sound. Practice simple words like cat, fan, bat, and cab.

For example, if you have the letters t, c,and a sound out the word ‘cat’ with your child, holding up a finger for each sound. Once you have practiced the sounds, match the letter to the sound and put it in the correct order.

Continue on with other 3-letter words! You could also make the consonants and vowels different colors to emphasize the difference between them.

Two boys reading

#6 Magnetic Letters

Lots of fun things you can do with magnetic letters! There is another article talking about this very thing. Click here for some great ideas on using magnetic letters… How to Teach the Alphabet; Mixing Things Up a Bit!

Once the ideas are flowing, get your own set here Magnetic Alphabet Letters and Numbers Review


#7 Point Out Words Found in their Every Day Environment

As you drive down the street point out letters/words your child may recognize on billboards and signs.

Have them watch for words that start with a particular letter and do their best to read it. What do you see that starts with the letter b? Can you think of a word that rhymes with can?

Street sign reading One Way

#8 Daily Word Games

Continuing on from the previous step, find opportunities throughout the day to play word games.

As you walk through the grocery store or fold your laundry, ask your child things like “What sound does banana start with?” “What sound does shirt end with?'” “What is the middle sound in couch?” “What is a word that rhymes with bread?”

Give your child many opportunities to focus on hearing the separate sounds of the words representing things around them.


#9 Learn and Practice Word Families

What is a word family? Simply put it is a group of words that share common sounds and patterns. For example; man, can, tan, and fan are a word family that shares the -an letters and sounds.

Pointing out the same ending sounds and similar patterns in the words can be exciting for kids! They learn quickly that once they can read man they can instantly read other words.

In my classroom we did a fun activity with word families. We created word family presents. The ending letters were written in the middle and words that fit into that family were written in each square. A fun way to see several examples of word families!


#10 Book Choice

Let your child choose the book(s) they’d like to read.

There is power in choice! They will be more motivated to read when they choose books they are interested in.

Never Stop Learning

As for now, I hold up a few different books and let my daughter choose which one we read. As she gets older we will make library trips to find other books of interest.

Some neighborhoods have the option of a little free library book exchange (or you can start your own!). It is typically a little box stand in front of someone’s house where anyone can come and trade their books for other books to read.

Neighborhood library box

#11 Up for the Challenge

You want to provide your child with a variety of books, simple and challenging.

When they start to read on their own, make sure their books aren’t too hard.

A good rule of thumb to follow is if they struggle with more than 5 words on a page, it may be time to switch to another book.

They will slowly rise to the challenge, but you want to avoid frustrating them with too many hard words at once!

Man climbing

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I hope you have discovered new ideas to help your child on their journey to become a successful reader! Reading is such a fantastic thing to do. On to more adventures!

What has worked best for you in helping your child learn to read? Please share in the comments below!

Looking for more ideas on teaching the alphabet? Click Here to find them! How to Teach the Alphabet; Mixing Things Up a Bit!

Ready to begin the fun? Check out this Magnetic Alphabet Letters and Numbers Review!

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8 thoughts on “How Do You Teach Your Child to Read?”

  1. I didn’t start before they were born, but I always read to my children when they were younger. I made reading a bedtime routine. Dr. Seuss was always one of my favorites.

    My daughter struggled with dyslexia, and I’m sure without regular reading she would have struggled much more in school. Even with her dyslexia, she still enjoyed reading as she got older.

    Our local library also has great programs for children to encourage reading. When my children were young we were always tight on money, and children’s programs at the library were also free as well as educational.

    As a parent of a child that struggled with reading, I really like the idea of the flashcards; I wish I would have thought of that.

    Reply
    • Reading is a part of our bedtime routine also, I think that is great! I love Dr. Seuss as well. I agree, reading to your daughter regularly definitely helped her in her own reading journey.
      Looking into reading programs at your local library is a fantastic idea! I’m so glad you shared that.
      Thank you for sharing great thoughts!

      Reply
  2. All of these ideas are great! I have 2 young children of my own and they love to hear stories. My oldest, who is 5, is becoming a good reader. I think that is due to his love for letters at a much younger age. I try to practice with my children as often as I think of it.

    Reply
    • It sounds like you are doing a great job with your kiddos if your 5 year old is well on his way to becoming a good reader! Hopefully you can add a few more of these ideas to your bag of tricks.

      Reply
  3. What a great selection of ideas, some of which I have applied myself with my own children, who are great readers.

    Moving on to Grandchildren now, way more fun reading with them, I must say, and yes, so much fun in turning pages at the moment.

    Cheers for this
    Jo

    Reply
    • Yay! That is great news you have used some of these before and your children became great readers. Grandchildren are a whole new level of fun, happy reading with them!

      Heidi

      Reply
  4. What a great article. My children are grown and gone, but I have the fondest memories of reading the first 3 Harry Potter books to them.

    We did a lot of reading in our house, and I think it sets kids up for an easier time in school. My daughter insisted I teach her to read when she was 4. So I did. And then she in turn ‘taught’ her little brother. Cutest thing to watch.

    Thank you for your article, and for encouraging parents to get involved in their child’s education. Such an important message.

    Reply
    • I agree, reading at home definitely makes a big difference to your kid’s school experience! Those are the best kind of memories, I’m sure your kids remember that time spent together as well.

      That is so cute your daughter wanted to teach her new skill to her little brother! Sounds like she was/is a great big sister.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

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