I get questions daily about how you can make reading easier for your kids. It's no surprise that as parents, this can be one of the most intimidating points of your child's new foray into education. Some children struggle more than others, and some days can result in tears. But it doesn't have to.
I am sharing with you 9 ways to make teaching your child to read easier. And less difficult means less stressful, which makes these valuable tips winners in my book.
Tip #1: Share Your Love of Books
You should read books to your child. It seems basic, I know! But if it's not happening much, start doing it now. While reading, point to specific words. This builds vocabulary, interest in books, and so much more. I read 5–6 decent picture books a day to my toddlers.
Allow allow your children allow free access to quality books at home for them to peruse at their leisure. It gives them a peaceful moment to practice reading on their own.
Tip #2: Ear Training
Children need to be able to listen, identify, and repeat sounds in their work. This is part of phonemic awareness and is essential to learning to read.
Throughout your day, stop and say a word slowly. "FFFF-AAA-NNN" then ask, " What sounds do you hear first?" Do the same for the end of the word.
Pat, hat, sat. "What sound do you hear at the end of each word?"
Kids don't need to know the letter names for this activity. They just need to hear and identify the sounds that the words are forming.
Tip #3: Learn letter sounds.
Teach your child the sounds of the letters (phonemes) and the names of the letters. That can come later.
Get a good phonics-based program—ahem, "Dash Into Learning"—to guide you on which phonemes to learn. Point to the letter and say the sound, and have the child repeat it until they can do it on their own.
Start with just a few sounds. Turn it into a game for lots of practice. Matching! Bingo! Hunt for letters!
Tip #4: Blend the Sounds
Now comes a super important step! Take the letter sounds the child has mastered and teach them to blend two sounds, or phonemes, together. The goal is for there to be no gaps between the sounds.
Point to the first sounds and say the sounds. Then point to the next sound and say the new sound slowly. "Ffffffffaaaaaa." Ask the child to repeat while pointing to the letters.
Gradually go faster and combine all the letter sounds.
5th Tip: Learn sight words.
Explain to your student that some words can't be 'sounded out' and need to be memorized. We want a MINIMAL amount of sight words.
Many lists of sight words include words that can be decoded by the early reader. We recommend memorizing sight words that can't be read phonetically at the beginning. For example the words "the" or "you". Let the child decode words like "can" and "big" even though they are used frequently. They don't need to be sight words. It gives them more practice and confidence at sounding out words! The less memorizing and the more decoding at the beginning will help them be better readers.
Repeat the sight words until the child has memorized them. Play matching games, for example, to help them learn.
In need of reading activities? We've got some great ones here.
Tip #6: Blend CVC words
With blending two sounds together now mastered, start blending words that are consonant, vowel, and consonant. Words like "rat," "fan," etc.
Practice CVC words with the sounds the child has learned so far. Point to each letter and ask the child to say the sounds and blends without any stops. Add more CVC words as the child learns more sounds.
Tip #7: Decodable Books
Now it's time to start reading! Choose truly decodable books that only have the sounds and/or sight words that your child has mastered so they can figure out each word with confidence.
We don't want to encourage looking at pictures and guessing.
This step is ideal for Dash Into Learning early reading books!
Tip #8: Review, Review, and More Review
Reading is a tough process that takes time. Children must review what they have learned. Be patient! Go back a few steps and review each one again.
Many review games, such as these file folder games, make it enjoyable!
Tip #9: Include More Phonics
Continue this process and add more sounds, sight words, and advanced phonics rules. Continue reading decodable books that level up. 10–20 minutes a day of reading instruction and practice is enough at this stage, depending on the age of your child.
Continue to have them read aloud frequently. Find books your child is excited about and let them run!
Note: Use our full reading program to make this easy and fun!
I hope this clears up things in a simple way for anyone starting out teaching their child to read or for those who needed a refresher. Of course, I can't fit every tip, idea, or step in here. That would make for long reading.
These are the essential steps to get you started, and of course, you can stop back here on the blog for more in-depth coverage of reading and more homeschooling with Dash Into Learning!