Teaching Your Child To Read: Tips and Techniques

tips and techniques to teach child to read

Every child deserves to learn how to read well, as it’s an essential skill that they’ll be using for the rest of their lives. Whether it’s understanding menus and instructions, directions, terms, recipes and rules, everyone needs to know how to read. Unfortunately, new research shows that, despite reading being one of the first things taught in school, most children are unable to read at the level they should be. For example, 67% of grade 4 studies in the United States are unable to read at a proficient level, according to these studies. However, it isn’t just an American problem. Research also shows that 45% of Canadians are semi-illiterate, 42% of UK children leave school before ever getting a basic functional level of English, and nearly 30% of grade 5 students in Australia do not meet the benchmark literacy skills. It’s a worldwide issue, which suggests that the issue isn’t with the children, teachers or even the schools. Instead, it’s the way children are being taught how to read. It’s complicated and, according to studies, not successful. That’s also not to forget mentioning that despite every other subject adapting and evolving with the times, the way reading is taught has remained the same even though there are numerous studies proving that it does not work for the majority of kids. But now what? Fortunately, there are already practices and lessons developed that help children read better and all you have to do is learn the new way.

Every Child Deserves to Learn This Essential Life Skill

If you want to set a child up with a life of struggle, don’t teach them how to read. In other words, reading is one of the most essential life skills that is absolutely necessary for every child to learn and when a child cannot do so at a proficient level, they are being set up with a life of struggles.

Just think about it: how often do you read? Every adult reads every single day, multiple times a day. Whether it’s reading instructions or a contract, terms, conditions, menus, store and product labels when grocery shopping, taking a driver’s test – the list goes on. Reading is an essential life skill that we, as humans, use every single day and more times than we even realize. Without having this skill, life quickly becomes far more difficult than it needs to be, but we often forget that it is a learned skill. After all, it comes to us so naturally once it’s learned – like riding a bike. But the reality is, if we aren’t taught how to read, letters and words simply look like a bunch of different symbols.

But aside from convenience and making life easier, why is reading so important? Well, every child deserves to learn how to read. Period. It’s a life skill, meaning that it’s necessary for survival. However, reading also sets a child up for success, as it is one of the main building blocks needed for successful education throughout the years, as well as many other things.

Let’s take a look at what makes reading so essential.

Reading Is a Main Building Block

Learning how to read is one of the main building blocks a child needs in order to learn other skills that are imperative to their education and success. It’s an essential skill that will support the child throughout all aspects of their schooling, in absolutely every subject. Whether it’s math class or physical education, geography, history or music, reading is used in all subjects. In order for a child to be successful in these subjects, they need to first learn how to read successfully.

On the other hand, when a child cannot read at the level they should be reading at, it trickles down into all aspects of their education.

Reading Improves Focus and Concentration

When a child learns how to read, they are also learning how to develop other important skills, such as focus and concentration. Certainly, we can all relate to reading a sentence, only to have to go back and read it again because we weren’t focused on what we were actually doing. This is one of the many ways that reading teaches you how to develop these other skills; you need to focus in order to actually read. As such, it teaches children how to ignore distractions and hone in on the task at hand – a life skill that will certainly serve them well beyond reading.

But that’s not all. Reading can also improve concentration and help a child learn how to sit quietly on their own. This leads into their independence and confidence, and the positive effects continue to flow into other areas of their life.

Reading Improves Vocabulary and Language Skills

Reading, vocabulary and language skills all go together. It’s why we read to our children long before they’re even talking – it helps them learn how to talk. Eventually, as a child learns how to read and continues to do so on their own, they are able to learn new words, expand their vocabulary and strengthen their language skills.

Reading is Essential for Developing Writing Skills

When a child learns how to read, they aren’t just learning the words that they’re reading. Instead, they’re also learning about punctuation and sentence structure, grammar, different styles of writing, and so many other things that help them develop writing skills.  

Reading Improves Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills

A powerful benefit of learning how to read that often goes overlooked is its ability to help children develop important analytic and problem-solving skills. In almost all stories, particularly those written for children, there is some kind of problem that needs to be resolved. When a child reads these stories, they are also learning how to identify and sort through important details to determine or foresee a possible solution. This enhances their analytical skills, while also teaching them important problem-solving skills.

Reading Fosters Self-Confidence

If you’ve ever met a child who can’t read well, it drastically affects their confidence in and outside of the classroom. It’s as if they already know just how important it is to their success and quality of life. And even if you’ve never seen it, studies have also found that children who read regularly are able to develop strong literacy skills that help them become confident readers and ultimately, a more confident child.

How to Teach a Child How to Read

The traditional method used to teach children how to read is with sight words – memorizing letters and word shapes and applying what you’ve memorized to learn new words. The only problem with this is that it doesn’t make any sense. After all, but and hat have the same word shape, but sound entirely different. This goes for a lot of words in the English language – hot and bat, cup and map, sat and sub, and the list goes on. Plus, that’s also not to mention that children aren’t actually learning how to read with the traditional method; they’re simply learning how to memorize the word.

Fortunately, many alternative strategies are being used to teach children how to read, so they can improve their literacy skills and yes, even learn how to love reading. Here are some fun, kid-friendly tips for teaching children how to read:

  • Use nursery rhymes to build phonetic awareness: this technique helps children hear and develop different sounds and syllables in words.
  • Read to your child regularly: This can help your child match the words you’re saying with the words they see in the book, especially if you’re following the words in the book with your finger as you read them.
  • Play word games. Download some word-friendly games on the tablet and introduce your child to fun, educational games help make reading fun.
  • Keep magnets on the fridge: This encourages your child to play and work with their letters in a fun way.
  • Focus on word sounds: As mentioned, ‘cat’ and ‘cut’ have the same word shape but sound completely different, so focus on the sounds instead of the shapes when teaching children how to read.
  • Make reading a daily thing. Incorporate reading into everyday life by playing word games, making up rhymes or having your child help you read or identify letters when you’re out.  
  • Create reading cards together: This is a fun activity that also helps bring out their creativity.
  • Use an online reading program: There are many award-winning programs that use modernized techniques that teach children how to read in a fun, game-style way. One of them is the Children Learning Reading program which we have reviewed.

Every child deserves to know how to read successfully and confidently. Implement the things you’ve learned in this article to create a strong, reading foundation that will help a child throughout their entire education and beyond.

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