Learning to read is one of the most important and celebrated milestones in education. And with good reason! If you can read, you can do anything else you want in life.
If we want our kids to become readers for life, though, we have to start teaching them to love reading while they’re young.
There are a lot of excellent books on how to teach your child to read, but after raising four readers in our family, I’ve learned that teaching a child to read doesn’t have to be a complicated event.
When you’re first starting out, though, it can definitely seem overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure where to start. Here are seven simple steps for teaching your child to read you can use, no matter where you’re at in your parenting journey.
And if you want even more ways to make reading enjoyable for children, check out these tips for encouraging your active kids to read for fun!
Disclosure: I am a BookShark brand ambassador and am receiving free curriculum as part of my role.
Teach Your Child to Read in 7 Steps
Images c/o: monkeybusiness & wavebreakmedia / depositphotos
Patience is a must when you’re teaching a child to read. Every child masters concepts at their own pace, so your little one might not be on the same level as the kid down the street who is a year younger.
Start introducing a new skill and, if your child is resistant or doesn’t seem to be getting the lesson, table it and try again another day. Keep things light and fun to help them grow their love for reading.
Master the Alphabet
Kids can’t learn to read without understanding the components of a word, so it is important to help them get a solid grasp the alphabet. Begin with the letters that are most familiar to them, particularly those within their name, and teach them one at a time.
Show them how to identify the letters and talk about the sounds that they make. They’ll quickly begin to understand how they come together to form words.
Keep Phonics Simple
When your child has a grasp on the alphabet, start introducing basic phonics. Don’t worry about all of the exceptions to the phonics rules at first. Stick with beginning letter sounds, short vowels, and long vowels.
Once your child can remember these phonic sounds, you can explain that there are words that follow their own rules and save those lessons for when they have a better grasp on the basics. Basic word sounds and common blends are all they need at this early stage.
Begin Introducing Sight Words
Common words that appear frequently in writing are called sight words. These are often hard to sound out or don’t follow typical phonics rules.
By helping your child to identify these words, even before they are technically “reading” them, they will be able to string together sentences a little more easily. Be sure to emphasize spelling as you’re teaching these words to maximize the impact of the lessons.
Make Reading Together a Conversation
An easy way to build reading comprehension is to discuss what you read along with your child.
As you read together, talk about the plot of the book and why the events took place. Help them to understand the possible emotions of a character and guess what might happen next.
Over time, kids will start to attach meaning to the words they read, especially when they understand the context, and their comprehension skills will blossom.
Find Everyday Opportunities to Make Reading a Game
As you go through your day, play simple games that will help build your child’s reading skills. For example, go on a letter scavenger hunt during your trip to the grocery store by finding the alphabet in order on package labels.
Or as you’re driving around town, have them find words that begin with a certain letter on the signs that they pass. Then challenge them to spot words they’ve recently learned while you’re out running errands.
As you actively seek these teachable moments, you’ll find that they are everywhere!
Use a Book-Based Curriculum
One of the best ways to teach your child to read is to use a homeschooling curriculum that is literature-based. We’re using BookShark with our youngest child this year and it is wonderful for building reading fluency, comprehension, and interest.
Books are involved in the reading, history, geography, and science lessons, so our first grader spends most of her learning time reading different kinds of literature, including fiction, first readers, instruction manuals, reference books, and more.
Instead of thinking of reading as a separate school subject, BookShark weaves it into everything a child is learning, which is wonderful practice for reading for life.
With these suggestions, you too will be able to teach your child to read in 7 steps! Remember, each child is different. Some learn to read at three, others at six, still others later on.
The speed at which your child learns to read is not important, though. What matters is that they learn to love reading, whenever they begin.
If you make reading part of their everyday experience and use a program like BookShark to include reading in every school subject, you’re sure to raise bookworms of your own!
Don’t miss these other tips for reading with kids!
And see more ideas for teaching literacy on my Reading for Kids Pinterest board!