How to teach a child to read: A Parent’s Guide
Your child’s reading skills can be developed at a young age! If you want to help your child read better, with more interest and enthusiasm, read on to know more!
Reading is a habit, we all know, that must be encouraged in kids. Not only does it help them gain proficiency in the language and establish a sense of comfort with it, but it also encourages them to broaden their minds and think innovatively. It is also a great way to improve their creativity. Reading gives one access to new worlds, ideas, structures and even people. Sadly, in today’s world, children are more drawn to technology than they are to books. It comes as no surprise then that most parents are constantly worried about how to teach a child to read. If you are looking for books to start them off, there are many classic children’s book available.
Are you wondering how to help your child when they are struggling with reading? Here is a list of five ways to help your child read better:
The first step that most doctors suggest when advising parents about how to teach a child to read, is reading aloud. Teaching children to read is a process, one that needs to begin right at infancy. Reading stories out aloud, be it in the form of lullabies, songs, or rhymes, teaches infants that the source of entertainment is often found in these books. This begins to draw their attention and interest to books, which is step one in how to teach a child to read at home. Further, this could be a great bonding activity between you and your child as it is one that soothes not only the child but also the person reading aloud.
It is advised that you incorporate a routine when reading aloud—something like reading to your child right before bedtime is a great way to not only regularise the activity but to also make them look forward to it. It may also help sustain the tendency to read before bedtime as they grow older.
Setting a good example
Another regular answer to ‘how to teach my child to read’ is to start reading yourself. Children learn by example, and love to copy mannerisms and habits that they observe in adults around them. If you watch TV in your free time or spend time on your phone, your child is going to want to do the same as they will think this is something good that is expected of them. Alternatively, if they see you spending time with a book and actively attempting to read, they will try their best to do the same. Try and spend at least half an hour a day in their company with a book. Over time, they are going to come and ask you what you are doing in an attempt to understand the activity and your fascination for it. It will also show them that reading is something not just for children, but for adults as well, which will engage their interest further.
It is a scientifically proven fact that children learn through questions, and as a result, one must encourage them to ask questions. When reading aloud to your child, it is important to let them ask you questions, and in fact, push them to ask you questions about the book you are reading out to them. Not only will this help you understand their comprehension abilities better, but it will also ensure they stay engaged with the story and that they are thinking critically when listening to you.
Additionally, you can ask them questions in between—things like ‘What do you think XYZ character should/will do now?’, ‘Why do you think XYZ character did this?’, etc. will encourage kids to understand and deeply engage with the content presented to them, thus creating more interest in the story itself.
Creating phonemic awareness
Phonemes are sounds that comprise of longer words, that work together in order to produce a specific tone. For instance, ‘th’, ‘sh’, ‘bh’ etc are phonemes. Encouraging your child to be able to recognise similar phonemes will help them understand word families better. This will aid your child in learning to read when they begin to do so. A great way to teach your child to encounter phonemes is through rhymes. Not only are rhymes and rhythms fun, but they help create an awareness of sounds and syllables which prepares them to read.
You can also start teaching them to group rhyming words, belonging to the same word family together. By learning that ‘mat’ and ‘cat’ belong to the same family, they may be able to put together the fact that new words like ‘fat’ and ‘hat’ probably also belong to the same family. This will teach them to be able to pronounce these new words correctly and thus build word association skills as well.
Despite how much we prefer books to technology, one cannot deny that the power of technology is too great to be able to shield your child from it for too long. A great way to overcome this, and to use technology to your benefit, is by making it a solution to the ‘how to teach a child to read’ question. This could be in the form of word games and fun storytelling sessions. Download games that will encourage involvement with words in your kids—there are games now that encourage kids to read out words and score them accordingly. You can also download online lessons that will teach your kids to read and identify words and help you monitor their progress; the lessons are usually less than 20 minutes long, and you could make your child do a lesson a day.
Another fun activity could be making them listen to stories read out aloud while also following the physical words. This will help them make the connection between sounds and letters, thus enabling the learning of certain letters and phonemes.
These are small tricks that parents often use when trying to inculcate reading habits in their children. Admittedly, a large portion of this falls on your child’s own interests, but it can be argued that interests are formed over time and are a product of nurture not nature. Nurture a reading habit in your child today and watch them blossom into a lover of words and possibly a writer of them someday.