Helping Your Beginning Reader

Here are a list of tips and ideas as you teach your children to read:

1) Don't assume they will learn it all in school. They might. But they might not.

2) If your child resists reading out loud to you to practice reading, don't push it. Read aloud to them instead (and this is coming from something of a tiger mother, so I don't say this lightly). If their teacher insists on twenty minutes per day, ask if some of that time or all of that time can include you reading aloud to them. There can be nothing more humiliating to read aloud to a tired parent that just wants to get this over with. You need the patience of a saint sometimes to do this, and you don't want any negative associations to develop while you are snuggling next to them on the couch with the book. You don't want them to sense that you are frustrated with their struggles learning to read. It will only increase their own frustration. Snuggling on the couch, reading books together, should always have good associations. These are foundational experiences that can make your child a reader for life!

3) Try the Explode the Code series by Nancy Hall. It's a workbook series that takes kids through the steps of reading (phonics, phonemic awareness, sight words, etc) in the best, most thorough progression I've found (and I've looked everywhere). If your child makes it through workbook three or four, they probably won't have any holes in their decoding. Begin with Get Ready for the Code to teach them the letter sounds and shapes, and move on from there. If your child knows the letters and sounds, begin with book one.


4) Look into 
A problem so many of us run into is finding enough early readers on our child's level to keep them growing as they learn to read. Once they've read the same books several times, it's difficult to tell what they've memorized or not. For eighty dollars, you can buy a year's subscription to this website and download and print off (if you want to) books on every level from aa to Z. The aa books are basic look-at-the-picture-and-say-what-it-is kind of books; then they slowly add in basic phonetic words, etc... For my older kids, I love it too, because I can print off non-fiction books at many different levels that are interesting to them. 

5) Don't stop reading aloud until they refuse to let you read aloud. Studies have shown, once children enter kindergarten, parents read aloud much less frequently, and of course, this continues with age. Kids need to be read aloud to while they are learning to read, even more than they need to practice reading. A minimum amount of time should be a half-hour a day, and if it's possible, I would avoid always making this happen at bed time when (if you're anything like me), you are tired and want nothing more than to turn out the lights and put everyone to sleep (for several days).