Learning to read is a major milestone for both parents and kids. There is a moment of pure pride, joy and bit of relief when little ones begin to connect the letters they see into correct and coherent sounds. As a preschool and kindergarten teacher, I remember the feeling of elation when my little ones were able to read their first few sentences completely independently. The moment when a smile that would appear on their faces as they correctly read all the words and the light in their eyes when they understood what they read was what I lived for…
The Beginners Guide to Teaching Kids How to Read
We know that when someone is able to read – no just sound out words – but sound out and understand the words, an entire world is opened up to them. So the trick is to make sure young children not only learn how to read but that it is done in a way that maintains their love of reading so that they have access to information that will improve all aspects of their life. This is why we teach reading. We give young children keys to a whole new world and the ability to create new worlds.
What is reading?
In simple terms, reading is the ability to recognize and make sense of letters.
Until someone can understand what is being read, they cannot be considered a reader. This is what trips up many parents. There are many children who are great at sounding out (decoding) words but cannot understand the meaning of the sounds they have produced. These children are not readers…yet but they can become readers with some guidance.
How to Get Started Teaching Kids How to Read
Getting started with teaching kids how to read requires you to understand the different reading skills. This gives your a big picture view and lets you begin to see what your child needs to master to become a strong reader.
Tips for Success when Teaching Young Kids How to Read
- Start when your child is young by thoughtfully using phonemic awareness skills daily. Nursery rhymes and silly songs are actually powerful teaching tools. Focus on speaking and listening as a foundation for growing a strong reader.
- Move at your child’s pace. They will show you when they’re ready for the next skill— child readiness is key to successfully teaching anything!
- Use post-it notes to label common items around your home to help your child begin to connect the words spoken with the word written.
- Read for pleasure with your child. Storytime helps children link books with good feelings and that increases their motivation to want to learn to read.
- Use books or written text to help you answer questions – even if you know the answer. Talk through your thought process for example, “I want to make banana bread today. I think I’ll check our recipe book for recipes.” This allows your child inside your head and they can begin to see how books and text help to solve problems and answer questions.
- Show your child that you enjoy reading. Let them see you reading a new recipe, the newspaper, a book, a magazine, street signs, restaurant menus – anything! This lets your child begin to understand that they can use reading for just about anything in life.
- Have lots of fun experiences then learn more about it through a book or switch it and read a great book together then try something out. This helps build comprehension.
Common Questions/FAQ About Teaching Kids How to Read
What age should you teach your child to read?
Reading begins when a child is ready. There are key things that show a child’s readiness for reading but the biggest tell is their print motivation. Basically, are they even interested in books? Print motivation is not linked to a child’s age but their exposure and natural disposition. To improve your child’s print motivation make reading a happy pleasing part of their daily routine beginning from infancy. They will come to expect books and print in their environment and link reading with happy moments.
What should a 5-year-old be able to read?
- By the end of their fifth year-I’m being clear because kids get 12 months to be 5 years old- children should be able to read simple CVC words (cat, pin, met, cot, hug, etc.) and have a sight word/high-frequency word vocabulary of 50 words. Now because I’ve worked in various countries I want to be clear, this is for children in their mother tongue. Things get a bit more complex if a child speaks more than one language at home. They tend to start off a bit slower however they pick up very quickly and are fine with their peers.
What is the best method to teach reading?
- The best method for teaching reading is an approach that is science-based and fun. At the end of the day, children need to be given the tools to be able to read new words – that’s where phonics comes into play. However, they also need to have reading fluency and understand that our words don’t always follow rules (well rules they don’t need to know right now because they are too complex) -that’s where sight words/high-frequency words come into play. A balance between phonics and whole language is what has worked in my classrooms around the world with both native English speaking kids as well as kids learning English as a second or third language
What are fun ways to teach reading?
- There are loads of fun ways to teach reading. I love hands-on games, like file folder games, card games, board games, outdoor games, or word hunt games just to name a few. Using technology is also a great way to break up the learning. My students loved Leap Frog’s Letter Factory and Starfall.com. Another fun way to teach reading is by linking it with what kids already love. I once used frogs to teach my kids how to read. Why? It was our class obsession at the time (yes there’s a whole story there for another time).
What are the basic skills of reading?
- The basic reading skills are phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words/high-frequency words, reading vocabulary, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. The table above gives a simple definition of each.
Is phonics the best way to teach reading?
- Phonics is a great tool for children to have as they learn how to read but it is not the best way. A balanced approach that teaches all the reading skills is the best way.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Teaching Kids How to Read
Teaching your child how to read is very doable and can be fun for your child, however, this skill goes beyond letters and sounds. To make the process as stress-free as possible, following the readiness of your child is key. Finally remember that extremes are bad but balance, especially when teaching reading, is what we are striving for young readers to have. Your goal is to equip your kid with the tools they’ll need to be able to use books and text to solve their problems and get answers to their questions.
Please share this blog with parents who are looking for clear guidance on how to teach their young children how to read.
See you in the next post!