What is the best way to teach your child to read?
Photo by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash
By nature, humans are storytellers. We love to engage with others and share our experiences through conversation. In fact, we love stories so much that we immortalize them in book form, enjoying them and passing them along to others when we’ve turned the final page. Stories and reading form an integral part of our lives. Thus, it’s incredibly important that you teach your child to read. But how exactly should you go about it?
The first step to teaching your child how to read actually doesn’t require them to read anything at all. Instead, it entails you reading aloud to your child. Begin doing this within days of bringing your baby home from the hospital. While they may not understand what you’re saying, they will pick up on the sound of your voice, which will help build a special bond between the two of you. This will help your child form a positive association with reading all the way into adulthood.
If your child is old enough to speak, ask them questions about the storyline and characters of the book as you read to them. This allows them to engage with the book and ensure that they comprehend the story. And, while reading is important, comprehension is even more so. If a child can read well and still don’t understand what they’ve read, what’s the point? So, make it your mission to encourage your child to interact with the book and better understand it’s meaning.
Choose the right books
Of course, keeping your child’s attention long enough to read them a book may be a bit challenging. So, it’s important you choose books that are age-appropriate and interesting to your child. If the content is difficult to understand or you little finds it boring, they’ll quickly lose interest. And one of the most important parts of teaching your child to read is instilling in them a love of reading. If they don’t want to read, they’ll have no desire to learn.
Be an example
Even if your child is interested, his fascination with books can dwindle if they don’t see reading as a commonplace thing in your home. Sure, there may be books strewn all about your house. But if you never pick them up and read them, your little one won’t think to do so either. Therefore, it’s a good idea to set an example for your child. Pick up a cookbook, the Bible or your favorite fiction book and settle in for a good read. Even just a few minutes a day can do the trick.
Identify letters and corresponding sounds
Once your child displays comprehension and interest, you can begin helping them identify different letters in words. Many children will begin recognizing letters around age two or three and most can identify the majority of the alphabet by age five. So, before they reach kindergarten you should encourage them to learn letters and their corresponding sounds. Of course, they may not have perfect mastery over letters before beginning school, but practicing now will help create a solid foundation for more learning.
Practice word association
Teaching your child the names of objects, places, and people by pointing and verbally stating what they are can also help your child learn to read. For instance, if they understand what a cat is in real life, they’ll more easily understand the word cat when they see the word. So, as you teach them about real-life scenarios and objects, point out the same familiar words in books to help improve your child’s word association skills.
Sound it out
Once your child learns to associate words with pictures and can identify letters and their corresponding sounds, it’s time to sound out the words in books. Start with simple two or three letter words, allowing your child to sound out each letter on their own. Then, as they get the hang of sounding out letters to form words, increase the word length or add in a few words with letters that don’t always sound the same, like the letter k in the word knife.
Modify for your child
No two children are the same. So, what works best for one kid might not work for yours. Therefore, the best way to teach your child to read is to modify your strategy to suit him and his learning style and capabilities. Teach them too much too quickly, and they may lose interest or become overwhelmed. Teach them too slowly, and they might become frustrated and struggle to keep up with their peers in school.
So, find a method that works best for your child and modify it as they grow and learn. With practice, dedication and a little bit of luck, you’ll soon have another avid reader in your home.