5 ways to help your child learn to read

Did you know that 14% of children in Year 10 only have basic reading and writing levels?

It’s an alarming statistic, isn’t it?

According to Speech Pathology Australia, children who have language impairments are six times more likely to experience reading and writing difficulties at school, yet many children go through their education without receiving extra literacy support.

Vickie Leung, speech pathologist and literacy educator, explains how you can help your child learn to read at home.

Home reading: 5 ways to teach your child to read

Why don’t all kids learn to read at school?

All kids learn to read at different rates, but for some children, the process of learning to read is slower than others.

Often children who miss out on reading support at school are well-behaved kids whose difficulties go unnoticed by busy teachers.

Sometimes, these children’s difficulties are not the most severe in the group, and so the limited help that is available is directed to classmates who are also struggling.

Good news for struggling readers

The good news is that you, as the parent of a young child, have the opportunity to build early literacy skills now.

Research tells us that, with early intervention and prevention, most children’s reading difficulties can be remediated or minimised before they are explicitly taught how to read.

So, if you find that your child:

  • is a reluctant reader,
  • avoids text based activities at all costs
  • says they find reading too hard or uninteresting,

try some of these strategies. They’ll help you and your child get more enjoyment out of reading together.

5 ways to make learning to read easier for your child

Teach letter sounds and letter names.

One of the key components of learning how to read new words is knowing how to sound out individual sounds within words.

Teach your child to differentiate between when to use letter names (e.g. this is the letter ‘A’) and letter sounds (e.g. this letter is A, and the sound it makes is /a/).

This way, when your child is trying to decode (sound out) a new word such as ‘p-r-o-b-a-b-l-y’, they can separate the sounds out and put them back together to work out the word.

Pitch reading materials at your child’s level.

Gauge your child’s reading ability.

If they don’t know how to read yet, teach them how to match letters to their sounds.

If they are working on really simple books with words with only 3 letters in them, help them with challenging words.

Guide your children towards success by pitching the books at a level which they can be independent readers.

Remember… Success = engagement.

If we believe we are good at an activity, we are more likely to persevere with it….

And for a reluctant reader, learning to read is all about perseverance!

Spot the difference between sight words and words that can be sounded out.

Sight words are the most common words in children’s books and occur at a high frequency in our daily lives i.e. ‘you’, ‘said’ and ‘where’.

Most of the time, these words can’t be sounded out and your child will need to be recognise them on sight.

For example, if you tried to sound out the word ‘you’ , it would result in ‘why-oh-you’

That’s confusing for kids!!

The best way to tackle sight words is to rote learn them by sight.

You can start this process by pointing sight words out to your child if they’re not familiar with them yet.

For example, “that word is ‘said’, we can’t sound that one out because it is a tricky sight word.”

The NSW Department of Education has a great list of the first 100 basic sight words that children learn.

Download a copy here.

For all other words that follow simpler sound rules, such as ‘cat’, ‘dog’ and ‘cup’, encourage your child to say each sound individually, and put them together to form a word (e.g. c-u-p makes the word cup).

Teach your child to ‘Slide’

When your child is ready for more of a challenge, they might try to tackle words with more than one syllable, that is, multisyllabic words such as ‘he-li-cop-ter’ or ‘ham-bur-ger’.

If new words are long and therefore a bit daunting, you can try a ‘sliding’ technique where you reveal only one syllable at a time, covering the rest of the word with your finger, a bookmark or pencil.

This way, your child can then work out just 3 or 4 sounds required per syllable and try and put it all together afterwards,

For example, ‘pos’ then ‘i’ and ‘tive’ would make the word ‘positive’ when blended together.

Remember to have fun!

If learning to read is a struggle for your child, then it’s really important to take a positive approach to reading at home.

Avoid asking your child to read when they are tired or not feeling well… it’s not worth the stress (for both of you!)

Praise your child’s attempts to read… even when they don’t get every word quite right.

Depending on your child’s reading level, you might:

  • congratulate them on recognising a single sound
  • praise them for completing a sentence
  • compliment them for reading a whole page or
  • reward them for reading an entire story

Your struggling reader will feel better when you celebrate achievements together.

© 2016 Kids First Children’s Services

Reading Writing and Spelling tuition - English tutoring in Sydney's northern beachesDoes your child need help with Reading?

Kids First’s experienced speech pathologists have advanced training in Literacy Support.

They have helped hundreds of northern beaches children learn to read, and they can help your child too.

Literacy support provided by a speech pathologist has the added benefit of being a health service for which private health fund rebates are often available.

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