How can I help my child learn to read?
The best way to help your child learn to read is to first help them develop a love for reading. Don’t force it! If you make reading tedious, your child is not going to enjoy reading. This will start a vicious cycle. If they don’t enjoy reading they most likely aren’t going to be that interested in doing it. We all know practice makes perfect! Have you ever found yourself re-reading the same sentence for the third time. It was probably some piece of writing that didn’t interest you. So make reading fun for your child and they’ll be a better reader.
Here are some fun ways to encourage reading:
Audio books. Audio books are great for comprehension! Pop these in on a long car trip and it’s fun entertainment for the entire family. You might also consider getting the audio book and the actual print copy. Have your child listen to the audio book as they read along in the print copy. This reinforces the words being read aurally. You can often find these as a CD/book set already. If there’s a book your child really wants to read that doesn’t come in a set, get the two parts separately and make your own.
Family members record books. Have different family members record themselves reading a book or have them read a book to your child via webcam.
Family Pets and Stuffed Animals. It can be intimidating to have to read a book out loud to an adult, especially if you know they are going to correct every mistake you make. So encourage your child to practice reading to the family pet or their favorite stuffed animal. They’ll be much more relaxed because everyone knows Fido can’t read so he definitely can’t say you read that word incorrectly. If your child really gets into this, dedicated programs with trained reading dogs are often found at your local library. Check with them or on the Internet to find these opportunities locally.
Magazines, Newspapers and Comics. Let your child read all forms of print. Kid-friendly magazines, newspapers and comics are all forms of print and may just be the format to hook your child on reading.
Library card. Allow your child to get their own public library card. Getting to check out your own books on your own card is a big deal for a kid and a sure way to foster reading. Also, don’t force your child to only check-out books they can read by themselves. Sure, it’s great practice to get a book or two that is at their reading level, but their interest may also be sparked by a more difficult book. Let them get one of these books and then use it as a read aloud book before bedtime.
Nonfiction. Nonfiction isn’t evil. We’ve been trained to think that kids only like storybooks. Kids do love a good story, but they are also naturally curious about their world. Nonfiction is a great way to hook a reluctant reader. Publishers are doing a much better job nowadays of publishing nonfiction text that is at an appropriate level for younger children. Ask your librarian to help you find these.