Have you ever had trouble teaching your child to read? How many times a day do you hear one or more of the following: “ I don’t like to read.” “There aren’t any books I like.” “I am bad at reading.” “I’m not going to reeeeeeeeeeaaaad it.” And every time those grating words send you right on a trip to mommy Shamedom. Why can’t you get them to read? If they can’t read well they will have a hard time in school for the rest of their life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it’s all my fault. This is too stressful. Can it ever get better?
The answer is yes, you can teach your child to read! the solution is not so easy and needs to be an individual approach. What may work for one child will not work for the another. First, go to their teacher at school and get their advice. Children act differently when they are not with their parents, their teacher may have some new insights.
Here are some questions to ask yourself in the meantime:
When it is time to read at home does my child have a quiet comfy place free from distraction?
Does my child spend too much time engaging in activities that require minimal effort, that are mindless?
Is my child embarrassed to read in front of others?
Do other siblings/ adults tease them about their reading? Or give them a hard time about it?
Do I or others constantly correct my child when they read out loud?
Now that you’ve thought about those things, not that you haven’t before, you may find the sections below helpful.
Teaching your child to read at Home
Make sure your child reads to you out loud every day. This can be for as little as ten minutes. As they read aloud, resist the urge to correct their words; over-correcting creates anxiety. New readers need the opportunity to practice their sounding out strategies. Us moms and dads can be pretty quick to just jump in and tell them the word. If they start to struggle with a word, give them encouragement to keep trying, rather than jumping in right away. Tell them to “sound it out”, “stretch it out”, “break it up into chunks”, and then wait calmly while they do it. Count to 20 in your head if you need to. When they get part of the word right, praise them, “ Yes, you got that part, now what is the rest? Let’s put it together.”
If your child really struggles to read out loud this may be a sign that when they usually read in their head they skip words, and just try to gather the meaning of the page by looking at the pictures. Time to break old habits! In the beginning you may take turns reading pages. When it is your turn to read, request that they follow the words you say with your finger. This helps their eyes get better at one to one matching. Completely refuse to read aloud? Try echo reading. Tell them what an echo is, say a funny word and have them “echo” you. Then say that is what you are going to do with their book, for fun. Encourage them to have their eyes watch the words, read the sentence and have them repeat it, on every page! When you are done, praise that “good little echoer”! After the 10-15 minutes of reading time with mom or dad, the child can finish reading in their special reading spot. You can ask a few questions when they finish. Always be positive. Phrases like, “You don’t remember what you just read?” “I don’t think you were even reading.” “You won’t get better like that.” , can be damaging even though our intentions are to simply help them recognize the importance of practicing reading. Avoid yes or no questions. Try asking questions like- “What character reminds you of you?”, “What was the most exciting part?” “What happened in the end?”. Most importantly don’t beat yourself up if you have had upsetting reading times in the past. Start new and notice every tiny change for the better.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you site down to teach your child how to read, and the reading experience will be more positive and more productive!
Stay Tuned for Part 2