Do you have a child just learning to read? Congratulations! Your child is on the verge of exploring a whole new world! The path to becoming an independent reader can seem slow and arduous at times, but here are some tips to help your child stay the course and discover the joy of reading.
Let your child choose books he wants to read. This sounds simple, but so often we get derailed by two little words—“reading level.” Kids need to read “easy” books to build fluency and comprehension, so let them choose books below reading level. Just like practicing an instrument, reading an easy book or an old favorite will refine skills. Kids need to read what they’re interested in—even if it’s hard. So let them choose books above “reading level,” and they’ll tackle challenging vocabulary just because they care. And if they need help, you’ll be there to ease the way.
Which brings up the next tidbit of advice- kids need you to read to them. Don’t abandon reading aloud once your child begins reading. Your reading models skills they need—cadence, speed, inflection, pronunciation, vocabulary. Even more, your read-alouds remind them why they’re working so hard—for the love of story and information! So the next time they choose a book that’s above their reading level, help them meet the challenge—share the reading, model for them, and let them echo you.
The mechanics of learning to read can be hard work, but be careful about making it a “chore.” Your child’s motivation to read is a huge indicator of how accomplished he’ll become. And, let’s face it, how motivated are we by our chores? Beginning readers are encouraged to practice their skills at least 20 minutes a day, but it’s important to not become clock-watchers. Keeping track of time is fine, but shift the focus away from that in hopes that your child will one day completely lose track of how long he’s been reading.
While your child is practicing, be a great listener. Don’t correct mistakes unless it changes the meaning. Help your child when he needs it. Be patient and nonjudgmental. Find fun and alternate ways your child can practice—with siblings or family pets, or even leading a stuffed animal storytime. Soon, you’ll discover that you’ve raised a reader!