How should I teach my child to read?

by hassan.k@turtletot.com.au Thu Jul 2

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Parents often ask the question ‘how should I teach my child to read?’ as they observe their child’s ability to recognize all the letters of the alphabet or use more advanced vocabulary when communicating. It is important to encourage early reading and creating a love for books and stories among your children. 

However, it is also important to remember that children learn and develop at their own pace. Another common debate we hear as early childhood teachers is that children need to be able to sound out words using phonics as this is what makes them good readers later on.While this may be true in some ways, research has shown that developing pre-reading skills consists of more than just understanding letter sounds and how words are formed. 

Read on below as we give you an overview of the different pre-reading skills for children based on research and teaching experiences and what you can do as parents to help them read better.

What can parents do to help their children read better?

1. Make reading fun!

This means:

  • Read with expression, varying your tones while reading as this attracts the children and makes them excited and curious in wanting to find out what happens next. 
  • Allow your child to choose their own book in a library or book shop. 
  • Read together constantly e.g. reading a recipe together.

early book reading examples

2. Practice Storytelling

We know that looking at the words 'practice storytelling' you might be thinking, ‘What? Does my child need to write a story already?’ In this case, what we mean is 

  • Read the same story a few times and then invite your child to retell the story in their own words.
  • Encourage your child in pretend play. 
  • Make up an imaginative story. 
  • Ask open-ended questions both throughout and at the end of the story. 

3. Help your child understand each word on a page

This means noticing print in the book and understanding that each word on a page represents a spoken word. As a parent:

  • Point to the words in the book with your child when reading a story.
  • Teach them the correct way of holding a book and the way we learn (from left to right). 
  • Point out familiar words in the story that children can relate to. E.g, The word stop is also seen on the road when there is a stop sign. 

We know what you are thinking, which stage is phonics at? If my child does not know how to sound out words, how can they even read? Don’t worry, it’s coming up. 

4. Help your child connect names of things to objects, feelings or ideas

This means your child knows the names of things and connecting them to objects, feelings, or ideas. You as a parent can: 

  • Read books with lots of pictures and invite the child to explain the picture. 
  • Explain unfamiliar words to children in the story. 
  • Invite your child to describe their favourite toy or thing they like to do.

At Turtletot, this is achieved by showing and telling where children have the opportunity to bring in something they want to talk about from home. 

5. Help children hear smaller sounds in a word

It means hearing that words are made up of smaller sounds and exploring what these sounds mean.

What can you do as parents?

  • Learn through nursery rhymes as there are lots of repetition and rhyming involved.
  • Challenge your child to change the beginning sound in a word or the end. E.g., cat, sat, mat. 

early children reading activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Help understand letter differences 

This is understanding that letters look different from one another and have their own name and sound. 

What can you do as parents?

  • Describing the shape of each letter.
  • Pointing out familiar letters when outside such as road signs, grocery tags, and directions. 
  • Play Alphabet puzzles. 

Trust your instincts as a parent!

It must be quite overwhelming at first reading all the information at once. However, you will be surprised that many of these you are actually already doing, except there is just a unique name to this particular skill. You definitely do not have to follow this order! Start with what you find the easiest at the end of the day, your child will tell you when they are ready. Trust me, you will know! 

If you would like to know more about the way educators build on children’s knowledge and understanding on various literacy concepts, here’s the link to the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) which is a national curriculum framework educators use to ensure quality and consistency in the delivery of early childhood education programs across all early childhood settings. In particular, Outcome 5 - children are becoming effective communicators where there is a great emphasis on ‘Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts’. (EYLF, p.44). 

Happy Reading from the team at Turtletot