How to Help Your Child Read

Reading is something that many children begin to gravitate toward naturally once they reach a certain age. While your child’s kindergarten class will help set up the basics for a solid reading foundation, there are many things that parents can do at home to encourage a reading-friendly environment. Ways to help your child read can include setting a good example, understanding his or her learning style, and encouraging consistent reading habits.

Looking for ways to support your student, but not sure where to begin? Follow these steps to foster a learning environment at home that can help your child learn to read:

Help your child read by setting a positive example

At the age that many children begin reading, they are also very aware of the habits and practices of their parents. Children may repeat phrases or actions done by Mom, Dad, or other adults. Creating a reading-friendly atmosphere starts with the things you do as a role model. Let your student see you reading from sources like:

  • Magazine articles

  • Newspapers

  • Novels.

When applicable, explain to your child what it is you are learning or reading about, so your student can begin to connect the words on the page with the ideas and thoughts that they symbolize. For example, when putting together a meal while your child is nearby, reference a cookbook and show him or her that the recipe you are using comes from the words in the book. This is something that can begin while your student is still becoming comfortable with the alphabet and its sounds.

Help your child read by stocking your home with age-appropriate books

Aside from keeping the books that you’re reading in your home, this is a great time to ensure that there are also plenty of child-friendly books in your living space. Your student may gravitate toward books with pictures and topics that he or she is interested in. Outside of the public library, there are second-hand bookstores that offer an alternative to buying new books for your child to read. Your local librarian can likely make some good title suggestions too.

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Help your child read by understanding his or her learning style

Once you have set up a home environment that exposes your student to books, you can begin working with your child on basic reading skills. Children will approach reading with different levels of enthusiasm, so it’s important to meet your student where he or she is. For a child who doesn’t seem very interested, make it a habit to read together daily. While reading out loud, encourage your student to sit with you and to follow each word with your finger. Once your child gets the hang of following along, encourage him or her to use his or her own finger. This method works well with every level of reader, but it can be the first step in showing a disengaged student how to get involved.

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Help your child read by reading together

After your child has expressed interest in following along with a story, it’s time to start reading together. One great way to help your student gain confidence while reading is to simply have your child fill in words he or she already knows, such as short sight words. These words appear frequently enough in stories that you can simply pause and have your student sound out terms like “is” and “it.”

Soon, your child will get the hang of sounding out a word within the context of a sentence. As your student gets older and familiar with more words, you can go longer and longer stretches of a sentence without reading, as your child fills in the blanks. Rather than discouraging him or her from taking a long time to sound out words, be patient! Once your student has finished the sentence, you can go back and read the whole thing from beginning to end.

Help your child read by encouraging continual practice

Now there’s just one step left: practice, practice, practice! Make reading a priority using incentives when necessary. It helps to schedule reading into a regular part of the day, because this can help even disengaged children see how they’re progressing. If your student expresses interest in certain topics, visit a public library to look for books together. Always congratulate your child for successes, no matter how big or small. Before you know it, you’ll have a little reader on your hands!

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