How Can I Help My Child Read Better?

Tips to try at home!
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How do children learn to read?

Reading is not a natural process that happens on its own. To help your child read better, you have to teach them how to read. Phonics is an excellent example of a skill that helps children know the relationship between letters and sounds. You can take a few steps as a parent to help your child learn how to read.

Reading involves different skills. Five core reading parts are phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate different sounds in words. Phonics recognizes the connection between letters and the sounds they make. Vocabulary helps understand words’ meaning, their definitions, and their context. Reading comprehension is the understanding of the meaning of the text. Finally, fluency is reading aloud with speed, understanding, and accuracy.

Running your finger under the words as you read helps your child learn how to read. Using funny voices or animal noises gets your child excited about the story. Showing how the events in the book can be similar to events in your child’s life keeps them engaged. It is crucial to continue reading to your child even after reading; they can understand complex stories even if they cannot read them.

What can I do at home to help my child with reading?

1. Start with building oral language

Read to your child every day. You can also sing songs and recite nursery rhymes to help teach your child to help elevate their reading skills. The rhyme and rhythm help children hear the sounds and syllables, which allows them to learn to read. An excellent way to build these skills is to clap rhythmically and recite songs. The more words your child knows, the more they will be able to read!

2. Teach the letter sounds

Letter-sound correspondence is the relationship of the letters in the alphabet to the sounds they produce. Letter-sound correspondence is a key component of the alphabetic principle and learning to read. The alphabetic principle is where letters and groups of letters match individual sounds in words. 

To teach letter-sound correspondence, start with a few sounds at a time by teaching each letter of the alphabet and its corresponding sound. It is essential to name the letter or letters that represent the sound, and then you should provide a picture of an object with the sound. Here is an example on teaching the short-vowel sounds

Using a short story that has the sound and a picture of an object with that sound and letters helps children remember the picture with the sound. There should be plenty of opportunities for letter-sound relationships to be taught and reviewed daily.

When teaching new letter-sound relationships, it is best to begin with, the letters of high value. Stagger letter-sound relationships that are confusing or visually similar before introducing any confusing letters. For example, teach b and d in separate lessons. After children master sounds spelled with one letter, you can introduce more complex letter-sound relationships.

Children can read familiar words after learning a few letter-sound relationships. At this point in letter-sound correspondence, children can at the least follow phonics rules and sound out letters and sounds they learn. 

With these skills, children will be able to read rules that do not follow usual phonics rules such as the words was, to, and put. 

3. Practice with simple words

Blending is a skill that helps us read, especially when reading unfamiliar words. It involves pushing together the sounds of the letters in the word to create the whole word. Blending is a complex skills that takes a lot of practice and time. Therefore, introducing children to phonemic awareness of oral blending is crucial. Modeling how to blend orally and break a word apart is the start of a child’s understanding of blending.

Always incorporate blending activities when teaching letter sounds. After learning a handful of sounds, children can blend words. You do not have to wait until all of the sounds of the alphabet are taught. 

Continuous blending has been shown to work best. It is where you stretch the word in a continuous flow of sounds. For example, instead of pausing between sounds, /m/ /a/ /t/, you can teach your child to blend without pausing, /maaat/.

Making simple word cards at home can help teach your child to read. Start with writing a word with three sounds on each card to start. The next step is to have your child read the word together and hold up three fingers. Next, have your child say the first sound they hear, the second sound, and the third. This tip builds phonics and decoding skills which help them learn how to spell words.

Playing with letter magnets can also be helpful in helping your child read better. Set up letter magnets on the fridge and put the vowels to one side. Say a consonant, vowel, consonant word such as hop, and ask your child to spell it using the magnets. Your child will enjoy this simple practice activity!

4. Repeat over and over again

Repeated exposure means that you repeat over and over the tips for reading. Multiple exposures do not mean you constantly repeat in the same way. Multi-sensory techniques, concrete examples, and model strategies help children read. It is important to make repeated exposure meaningful. Children need to see the purpose of what they are being asked to learn. Create an audience so that there is more meaning to the reading. Keep it natural and involve play to help your child learn to read.

Do you need help teaching your child to read?

Every child learns at their own pace, so it is crucial to make reading enjoyable. Reading regularly and mixing up the activities you choose will help keep reading enjoyable for your child. 
If your child still has trouble with reading, you may need to seek professional help. A Viva Phonics tutor can help your child learn to read. Don’t wait. It will only get harder to catch up.