How To Teach Kids To Read Made Easy Using 100 Effective Ways
Every parent wants to equip their children with the tools that will help them become successful in life. One of the most basic and the most important is the ability to read, and subsequently, the ability to write. Almost every operation in modern society is affected by these two skills. They become even more important when you consider that our society has become centered around the exchange of information, and a significant portion of this information is relayed through the printed word. Also, studies have shown that children who read more have higher average scale scores than those who don’t. Conversely, the inability to read and write can be both devastating and humiliating not only for a child, but for adults as well.
Even more than becoming a financial success or getting better grades at school, reading is a skill your children will cherish because it will open their minds to new things. If they truly understand what they read, it will help them see the world in an entirely different way. While it’s true that television and other visual mediums can also impart information, reading is better at imparting critical thinking skills and helping the imagination to grow.
Related: How To Teach Phonics
Here are one-hundred tips on how to teach kids to read and how to love reading.
1. Create an environment that will encourage your children to love reading.
2. If you want your child to love reading, it’s always best if you begin by loving it yourself. Remember, you can’t give what you don’t have.
3. Make sure your child sees you reading. Whether it’s a novel, a magazine or a cookbook, make reading part of your daily routine at home. Children imitate the behavior they see, especially what they see from their parents.
4. If you tell your child that reading is important and a valuable skill, then practice what you preach. If you prefer books to watching TV all day, your child will follow suit. If you would rather watch TV, however, don’t expect your child to take you seriously when you tell him reading is better for him.
5. This may not be obvious, but reading begins with listening. Even before you start teaching children about letters and written words, singing to them, talking to them and reading to them will help them become familiar with all kinds of words, and all kinds of sounds that make up those words.
6. Talk to your child using every day, normal words. Don’t try to “make it simple” by using “baby talk.”
7. The bigger your own vocabulary is, and the more words you use, the more likely it is that your child will pick them up and use them himself.
8. Read aloud to your child. Make it fun and exciting; use different voices when reading different parts.
9. Make story time a regular part of your children’s daily routine. Consistency is one of the keys to teaching children, and it’s also a great opportunity for you to bond with them.
10. If there’s one particular story they love, keep reading it to them, even when you’d gladly never lay eyes on it again.
11. When you read to your children, pause every once in a while to ask them questions about the story. It will help keep their attention focused, and you will slowly and naturally teach them to think about what they hear. Eventually, it will extend to their thinking about what they can read on their own.
12. Ask different kinds of questions about the stories you read together. The simplest kinds of questions are about the facts of the story, such as “Who is the princess in this story?” and “What was the princess doing in the castle?” But you can also ask speculative questions that will prompt your children to use their imagination. For example, “The princess saw the dragon flying outside her window. What do you think she is going to do?”
13. Other simple but engaging questions include, “Did you like this story? What did you like about it? Who is your favorite in this story? Why?”
14. Another way to engage your children in the story is to visualize it. If the story doesn’t have pictures, you can describe what characters or places look like. If your children are slightly older, you can ask them to describe what they imagine.
15. You can even start asking questions before you read the story. For example, “This story is going to be about a lion and a mouse. What can you remember about lions?”
16. Keep your children’s books within their reach. It’s always a good sign when your children choose to pick up books on their own initiative, but they can’t do that if you store their books away.
17. It may be impressive to have an entire shelf of books in one room of your house, but if you want to encourage your children, put books in all the rooms they commonly use.
18. Gain access to the library and take your children on trips there.
19. Give books as gifts. There are many beautifully-illustrated story books that can draw children in. Also, giving books as gifts will show your children the kind of value you put on reading.
20. Learn what kinds of stories your children like. Everybody has their own preferences when it comes to reading. Discover where your children’s inclinations lie, so that you can buy books that would interest them more.
21. Aside from storybooks, age-appropriate comics and graphic novels are also good books to read with your children.
22. Keep a good mix of fiction and non-fiction reading options for you and your children to choose from. It’s good to read stories about imaginary princesses (or princes, for that matter) but it will expand your children’s horizons if they hear and read about the real thing as well.
23. Familiarize yourself with recommended books for your child’s age and reading level.
24. Incorporate classics for children in your child’s library. Many people mistake “classic” to mean old and outdated. A classic is something that has stood the test of time, because generations of people have found something good in them. Give your child the chance to find that for himself.
25. Always acknowledge and praise every effort your child makes to read on his or her own.
26. More than criticizing failure, your focus should be on celebrating your child’s success, even in small things. While it is important that your child should have his mistakes corrected, it is just as important that he knows what he’s doing right, so that he will repeat it.
27. If you are going to discuss your child’s progress in front of him, be careful how you say things. Children retain a lot of things that adults think they don’t understand. If you start casting doubt on your child, he will lose confidence in himself.
28. If you’re going to discuss your child’s progress with his teacher, do not send him away. He will know you’re talking about him, and he may start to worry that he has not been allowed to hear what you’re going to say because there is something wrong. If you need to discuss your worries about your child with his teacher, do not bring him along in the first place.
29. One of the worst things you can do is to require your child to read a certain number of pages a day, or to finish reading a book in a certain amount of time.
30. Remember that you’re encouraging your child to read, not forcing him. Don’t be upset when he wants to watch cartoons instead of reading, and don’t insist that every gift has to be a book, not a toy. This kind of attitude will make him think of reading as a task or a chore you’re requiring him to do, instead of something he wants to do.
31. Have realistic goals for your child’s progress.
32. Do not rely exclusively on the efforts of your child’s school or teacher to instruct him in the basics of reading. If you confine reading to school, your child will always think of it either as a chore or a hurdle. This is even worse if he isn’t performing well in class. Then he will avoid it as much as he can, because he will associate it with feelings of humiliation and inadequacy.
33. Using flash-cards is also a way to teach child to read the alphabet and easy words. Children can associate certain words with certain images, which is a good starting point for learning reading.
35. Point at each syllable of the word as you’re sounding it out, so your child understands that these are sounds that are coming together.
36. Use a phonics-based method in teaching your children to read. This means a method that is based on the sounds that should be produced. Studies show that the most effective way to teach children to read involves teaching them the sounds of each letter in the alphabet, and then teaching them combinations of those sounds.
37. From an early age, get your child used to seeing letters.
38. Decorate his room with words and letters, even something basic as the child’s name.
39. Label your child’s things with his name.
40. Start teaching him the alphabet.
41. Sing the alphabet song with him.
42. Make learning his letters like a game, instead of a lesson that needs to be memorized.
43. Teach him to draw letters of the alphabet with colorful paper and crayons.
45. Decorate the letters you’ve drawn or made together, and hang them up, even if only on the refrigerator door.
46. If you’ve already established story-time, make up stories using the letters you’ve drawn or shaped as characters.
47. Have your child play with letter blocks, or even make your own.
48. If your child is going to learn to play games on a tablet (and he will), make sure to download word games for his level.
49. Even better than games on your phone or tablet, however, is downloading a good e-book reader, as well as a good selection of children’s stories and books.
50. There are plenty of excellent, illustrated books available in e-book format. Make sure you get a selection of these, especially for younger children.
51. When you teach your child a letter, also teach him the sound of that letter. It isn’t enough to say, “This is the letter ‘A’.” Also teach him the sound associated with the letter “A.”
52. Although English has only twenty-six letters, it doesn’t mean that it has only twenty-six letter sounds. “A” in “apple,” for example, isn’t the same as “A” in “ape.” Make sure when you teach a letter, you also teach the ways it can be pronounced.
53. Use games, such as guessing games, to help your child learn these letter sounds.
54. Drawing up a sound table can also help. Every section should have a letter, the word using the letter sound, and a picture of what the word is referring to.
55. Try to introduce a new letter to your child every two or three days.
56. Once you’ve taught individual letter sounds, start teaching simple letter combinations, such as “at” or “pa.” Leave the more complicated ones, such as “th” or “chr” for later on.
57. Use rhyming words to help your child recognize what sounds are associated with each letter. For example, “hat,” “cat,” and “mat,” all use the same vowel “A” sound.
58. In addition to teaching the sounds of individual letters, rhyming words also teach sound patterns produced by combinations of letters.
59. Reading nursery rhymes are a great way for your child to see these sound patterns repeated over and over again. Most of these rhymes have lasted for generations precisely because they are effective teaching tools.
60. Aside from nursery rhymes, other books that use rhymes, such as Dr. Seuss’, are also a great help.
61. Don’t be afraid to read poetry to your children. Choose poetry with rhyming schemes over free verse.
62. Encourage your child to start sounding out letters and putting them together. This is a process called “decoding.” Although your child will start out slowly, the more he practices, the more proficient he will become.
63. One way to help this process of decoding is to clap out syllables. This can also help with the rhythm of your child’s speech.
64. Another way to help your child to decode words is to sound out letters, and then ask him to put the sounds together. For example, “The sounds D-O-G make what word?”
65. Keep these words as simple as possible in the beginning, and preferably words that can be split up into three sections.
66. Be aware of which parts of words certain combinations are more likely to occur. For example, “wh-“ is always at the beginning of a word, while vowels are usually in the middle.
67. Use printed words around you to help teach your child. Whether you’re in the mall, or driving down the road, if you see a sign or advertisement with big letters and easy words, consider it as a teaching opportunity.
68. Play the “eye spy” game to familiarize your children with certain letters and sounds. For example, you can begin by saying, “I spy something that begins with the letter ‘A.’”
69. Another game you can play is a chain memory game. Every word added to the chain should begin with the same letter. For example, “Mama went to the store and there she saw a cake.” And then it can be added with, “Mama went to the store and there she saw a cake and a cap.” Not only will this teach your child to recognize letter sounds, it will also help improve his memory.
70. Always engage as many senses as possible when you’re teaching your child to read. Don’t be content with just showing the words, sound them out. If you can add other senses, such as touching letter shapes or toys, so much the better.
Here’s a great video how to teach your child sounds and letters:
71. Have your child participate in easy, everyday activities that involve reading and writing, such as writing up shopping lists.
72. For older children, leave notes at home or with their lunch.
73. You can also read the mail with them.
74. Do not be overly concerned with grammar. As your child’s reading and speaking skills develop, usually his grammar will be corrected by the examples he reads and hears.
75. Despite written English using a phonetic alphabet, there are some words that do not follow the usual rules of pronunciation. These are called “sight words,” because they are usually read based on the recognition of the way they look. Examples of these include “said” and “sleep.” Usually, these are learned through memorization.
76. An easier way to teach your child to read words like these is to recognize certain patterns of letters that produce specific sounds apart from their usual sounds. Here, rhyming is once again your friend. For example, if a child were to sound out “sleep” using the usual letter sounds, it would be very different from the way the word is supposed to sound. But if you show him that “sleep,” rhymes with “sheep,” and also rhymes with “keep” and “peep,” he will begin to see how these words are all meant to be read.
77. It is important to distinguish between sight words that are made up of common repeating patterns, such as “sleep,” and sight words whose pronunciations are unique. For example, “said” does not rhyme with “maid” or “aid,” despite all three words having “-aid” in them. Another example is “have,” which does not rhyme with “gave,” “cave” or “brave.”
78. When dealing with these particular sight words, games can help your child remember the way they are spelled. Play word bingo, with the sight words making up the grid. When you say the word, see if your child can recognize them on his bingo card.
79. Another game you can play is fill in the blanks. Give your child a selection of three cards with sight words written on them, and then say a sentence leaving the last word unsaid. Ask them to raise the card with the correct word to finish the sentence. For example, “At night, everybody is going to _______.”
80. One more thing to consider is that many of these sight words are very common words. If you have been reading to and with your child, chances are you have come across them more than once. This should make it easier for him to learn how to read them.
81. In reading words, it’s important to begin with learning to recognize letters, then letter combinations. Similarly, in reading sentences, it’s important to begin by reading phrases, then proceeding to sentences.
82. Some children can read words off lists, but can’t do it when these words are in books. Write down words that they are familiar with, and put them together in simple phrases. The easiest ones are “predicate phrases” that use words such as “on” or “to.” For example, “cat on the mat” or “to the store.”
83. Remember that one of the best ways to reinforce reading is to have your child write. Motor memory will aid the visual and auditory memory. Always give your child adequate opportunities to write.
84. Don’t be too particular about punctuation. If your child is in the habit of reading, he’ll soon start imitating the punctuation that he sees in books and other reading material.
85. Encourage your child to write about his day, or for older children, to keep a diary or journal.
86. You can even incorporate this in story time. If you’ve been asking your child questions, as he gets older, you can ask him to write his thoughts, instead of saying it out loud.
87. Be careful, though. Don’t treat story-time like it’s a classroom. The goal is not for him to answer questions as if it were a test, but to express his ideas in writing.
88. Keep on reading to your child, even if he is starting to do it himself.
89. If you think he’s up to it, ask him to read out loud to you. Start off with simple words, then short sentences. When he’s a bit older, you can ask him to read certain sections or even the lines of particular characters.
90. Once your child starts to read by himself, don’t expect him to read entire books at once. Choose sections for him to read out loud. Picking out his favorite parts in his books will help a lot, since he should be familiar with all the words.
91. Don’t let him get stuck on just one section, or insist that he keep repeating a section until he gets it “perfectly.” Introduce a new section for him to read every other day.
92. Keep these selections varied. A lot of people talk about children nowadays having short attention spans, but there is only so much information a child’s mind can absorb at one time. If you keep hammering away at one long book or article, not only is it likely your child will get bored, it’s also likely he won’t remember a lot of what he’s read about.
93. Also, a varied selection of things to read can help your child expand his horizons and learn new things.
94. If your child is still having difficulty reading despite all the measures you’ve taken, consider that the problem may be something that needs an expert’s diagnosis.
95. First check if your child has difficulty seeing or hearing. Often, a child’s struggles in learning are simply because his eyesight or hearing are too weak. If these things are corrected, then the child learns as easily as any other student of his or her level.
96. Unfortunately, there are times when the problem is not as easily resolved. There are some children who are unfortunate enough to be dyslexic, meaning that their reading abilities are impaired by problems such as being unable to distinguish letters from one another.
97. Dyslexia should never be taken as a sign that a child is somehow “mentally deficient” or “stupid.” Dyslexic people have even gone on to become some of the English language’s most celebrated authors. Examples include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie and W.B. Yeats.
98. If this should be your child’s problem, the first thing to remember is not to give up on your child. The second thing is to never let your child give up on himself.
99. Get professional help, but don’t leave your child’s reading entirely in the hands of experts. A lot of the things that encourage a child without disabilities will also boost the spirit of one who does. Read to him, make story time special, and remember to praise even a small effort or success.
100. The last thing to remember is that when you’re teaching your child to read, you’re trying to teach him a skill, but you’re also trying to impart love for something that will enrich his life in so many ways. Always remember to keep the joy in whatever you do.
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