4/23/2014

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Your Kid to Read

How to teach kids to read.

Let me preface this by saying that I did not teach my kids to read. I have taught hundreds of kids to read as a teacher and tutor, but I did not teach my own. And unless you are a homeschooling parent or your kid goes to lousy schools, the burden (or joy, depending on your outlook) of teaching your kid to read should not be on your shoulders.

However, I did do some things to make it easier for my kids to learn to read and to make them good readers once they got the hang of it. And I might wind up teaching Hugmonkey to read this summer, just because he is so desperate to catch up to his brother and sister. Anyway. . .

I hear a LOT of parents talk about teaching their kids to read. Especially preschool parents. While a few kids are ready to read in preschool, most are not actually reading. They are memorizing books and words, which is fine but not very effective in the long run. It doesn't matter if your kid could "read" The Cat in the Hat at 4 when she is unable to comprehend chapter books in third grade. I'm not saying (necessarily) that your kid will turn into a great reader if you follow my advice, but it will definitely help.

The Ultimate Guide

  1. Read to your kid every day. Reading together and talking about books is a great predictor of future reading success. And once your kid is reading, reading together can still help with vocabulary and comprehension. 
  2. Introduce the concept of the alphabet, but don't do flashcards with your 2 year old. Point out letters on signs, read alphabet books, that kind of thing. 
  3. Begin teaching phonological awareness. This awareness lets kids understand and manipulate the sounds in words. If they can't do that, then "sounding out" unknown words will be next to impossible. 
  4. Emphasize rhyming. The ability to recognize rhymes as a young child is a huge predictor of future reading success. I wrote all about teaching kids rhyming skills in this post. 
  5. As your kid heads into kindergarten, I would introduce the concept of "sight words". These are words that you recognize on sight, without having to sound out (decode) them. Your child's name, for example, is hopefully a sight word at this point. If your child is eager to learn to read, you can try sight word flash cards in kindergarten. If your kiddo isn't motivated? Don't force it yet. Try again later in the school year.  
  6. Begin teaching phonics; this links the sounds heard in words with the letters that make those sounds. It is what helps us "sound out", or decode, unknown words. 
  7. So, now your kiddo is reading. . .but is s/he understanding what is read? That can be a challenge for a lot of kids, especially kids who memorized sight words and phonics rules easily. Comprehension skills are something that parents can work on at home easily. Even if you just discuss what you read together each night, you are helping your child learn to reflect on text.
  8. Skip the workbooks. Please. Your kid is much better off reading Captain Underpants for the 10th time than doing mind-numbing "comprehension" worksheets. You can come by next week for worksheet alternatives. 
  9. If you're look for more detailed instructions and information, please visit Reading Rockets. It's the best reading site I've found on the web. 
  10. Books early readers will love:

We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Dr. Seuss's Beginner Book Collection (Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, Fox in Socks)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
10 Little Rubber Ducks
David Gets In Trouble
No, David!
Yo! Yes? (Scholastic Bookshelf)
Hi! Fly Guy
Scholastic Reader Level 2: Super Fly Guy
City Signs

23 comments:

(Terry) My Journey With Candida said...

I so agree with you when you say most preschool kids are memorizing books and words, and that is not a bad thing but yet.. they aren't reading.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is good! I think when kids are taught that reading is fun, they do even better...and hopefully love it for years to come! Good for the imagination, too!

Sarah-Louise Bailey said...

I used to love reading as a child - I'm not sure though now if at pre-school age I was memorising or reading. x

Fabulous Perks said...

I make it my duty to read to my son every night. I will put these tips to use. Thank you!

mail4rosey said...

There's a Fly Guy in my Soup (I think that's the name) was the first book my son read on his own. He was over the moon happy, and now I have a weak spot for the Fly Guy books. :)

Pam said...

Phonics was definitely key to helping my kids learn to read. I also tried to read to them every night.

Amanda Ripsam said...

my 6 year old loves when I read and she loves to help me read but she hates reading with a passion. It's like torture to her we just are doing evulations on her for auditory processing do to her genetic condition a rare genetic disorder on the 22q chromozone. so we practice sight words and picture words the books where there's pictures in place of some of the words. I use level one reader books but you got to be careful as some times level one books are more closer to level 3 books.

AMBER EDWARDS said...

Phonics really helped my kids to read. But so did very helpful teachers in school; and a lot of reading together at home. And I'm talking a lot of together reading. Before they could read; I'd read to them a MINIMUM of 20 minutes a day. it developed a love for stories so they were more willing to learn how to read themselves.

Masshole Mommy said...

These are all great tips. I feel so lucky that both of my boys are pretty good readers and actually like it! Phew.

Curby Aardvark said...

Reading is so important; I was taught reading at such a young age and was always more advance than other kids. I really appreciated the early influence.

Casa Vilora Interiors said...

these are all wonderful and very helpful tips. I think these acts build up kids confidence as well, so that's an added bonus to reading

Tough Cookie Mommy said...

As a Literacy Specialist, I approve this post. These are excellent tips for promoting literacy in younger children.

Anonymous said...

I am homeschooling a preschooler and while we have bad days, I love it. We do not sit around a desk much but take our learning to wherever we are - recognizing letters on his kids meal, making the sounds of letters for things we see like trees, parks, etc. We do worksheets though but because they are fun ones for his age and he enjoys them. Of course story time nightly is a must and sometimes we wake up to story time too.

Melanie Burbage said...

What great tips! It is tough teaching them to read, it's not an easy thing to do. Good tips

Liz Mays said...

Yes, I agree. Read, read, read some more to them. Actually my daughter would drag book after book to me when she was just a little bitty thing. She never got tired of reading, and she learned to read at 3 on her own just from the exposure.

Michelle H said...

First, I love the Elephant and Piggie books! I was terrified to teach my oldest son to read, just because I love it so much and know how important it is. Thankfully, he picked it up so quickly and has loved it from the beginning. Now as I'm getting ready to start with my 2nd son, the same feelings return. Thanks for the reminders and tips.

Onica MommyFactor said...

I agree with these tips! Kids can be taught the joys of reading by what their parents do. Read to the kids from the start!

Amanda & Jenni said...

Great tips! I am super happy my son loves to read so much!

Courtney Pies said...

These are definitely some great tips to getting your child to read! We have read daily and nightly to our 3 year old ever since she was born. I grew up knowing that books were important, and we want our children to know the same thing.

becca said...

Great tips I should try them out on son he isn't the biggest fan of reading.

Erica said...

These are really great tips! I think teaching your kid how to read is so important!

Rachee said...

I love these tips! I always recommend to my library patrons to read, read read to their children to help instill a love of books.

Ashley Gill said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time! My daughter will be going into Kindergarten in the fall and we are starting these things! Thank you for the pointers!