There are five easy steps parents can take to help kids read better and they don’t require a lot of time or special knowledge about phonics, suffixes, root words, and other teaching lingo.
When your child is having trouble learning to read or learning to read well, there is a lot of pressure on parents to come up with magic solutions to help them at home. Although you may be prepared to try anything, a major problem is that helping requires a great deal of discipline on the part of the parent who is often busy, tired, and sometimes discouraged at not seeing great results no matter what they try.
Simple Ideas Can Bring Results
If you concentrate on five simple steps, you can afford to be more relaxed about your child’s reading and avoid making negative comments such as “Sound it out!” “Read it again!” “Try harder!” Use these tips instead:
1. Maintain Regular Practice – The most important job of a parent is to be strict about finding regular time for the child to read with you, or to you, or some other family member no matter how busy everyone is. This step is more important than any other.
- Find a quiet time and place for reading a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes, five days a week.
- If it is impossible to meet the reading goal one day, move the day’s reading to the weekend.
- Keep a chart on the fridge or a bulletin board so that you and your reader can keep track.
- Schedule reading around favorite TV programs, gaming time, chores, sports, and regular homework.
- Simply enforcing regular practice with sensible flexibility is the best way of contributing to your child’s reading improvement.
2. Make Reading Enjoyable – Less is more! You don’t have to make reading a long, drawn-out affair with the aim of achieving perfection. Short, regular reading sessions are better for you and your young reader, and making the time as pleasurable as possible is very important.
- Don’t make a child sound out words at which he pauses, and don’t let the flow of the story bog down.
– If he pauses and you aren’t beside him because you’re folding clothes, ask him for the first letter and the sound it makes and then suggest he guess at what the word might be. If it sounds reasonable, let it go. If it doesn’t, tell him to leave the word out and keep reading.
– If you are sitting beside your reader when he pauses, go through the exercise of asking for the first letter and its sound, have him guess, and then just tell him the word and move on.
- Sound happy about reading time and, before you begin, ask him a question or two about what has happened in the story or what he thinks will happen next.
- When reading time is over, thank him, and tell him you are enjoying the story.
3. Reward the Reader – Nothing is as rewarding as success, but if your little reader isn’t very successful at learning to read, be lavish with your praise and set up a reward system.
- You are not turning a hockey player into a puck hog by offering prizes for goals—you are turning a reader into a better reader and his only competition is himself. Don’t hesitate to offer rewards for reading practice.
- Choose whatever prizes you think will motivate your child to cooperate, and set up your reward system with a clear conscience.
4. Keep a Positive Attitude – The more a child must struggle to learn to read well, the more important it is for a parent to stay positive. A child will work harder and enjoy practice time more if he feels he is succeeding.
- Always tell him he is improving, that you notice the difference in how well he reads, that he continues to struggle because he is reading more difficult material, or new material.
- Reassure him often that he will learn to read well and that, once he does, he will read as well as other people.
- Remind him that lots of people find certain kinds of learning more difficult than others, and there is nothing peculiar about it; with practice, he will master reading soon.
- Tell other family members in his presence that you are proud of how hard he is working and that he is improving a lot.
5. Create a Good Reading Atmosphere – Regularly draw your child’s attention to your own reading.
- Mention your enjoyment of reading cookbooks, or magazines, or e-mails, or whatever.
- Refer to the benefits of reading without beating the subject to death. Ask your child to help you find words on maps or menus or pages whenever you can.
- Read books aloud to your child even after he learns to read.
- Read books with your child using funny voices for some characters and encourage him to do the same.
- Introduce new reading material that’s easy to read, humorous, and exciting.
These are five simple steps parents can take to help kids read better. They don’t introduce difficult tasks, take additional time, or require extraordinary measures, and they pay huge dividends.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Maureen Grenier and a clickable link back to this page.