How to Help My Kid Learn to Read

What's Covered

Parents are mostly willing to go the extra mile to ensure a better future for their children. Providing their children opportunities to be equipped with fundamental skills like being able to read early is significant.  

Do you find teaching your kids to read a real struggle? Have you run out of ideas getting your little one’s attention to read? Doesn’t know how to start teaching them to read? Worry not, because this article will not just save a fortune for your anti-wrinkle products but will also make your child’s life a success.

What is Reading?

For hundreds of years, majority of people view reading as a means of gathering information from written materials.

However, a group of researchers comes up with a redefined meaning of reading as a reader’s constructive approach to come up with a definition based on the involvement of prior knowledge, information from printed materials, and the context of the reading situation (Peters et al. 30). Thus, resulting in a more accurate definition of reading as not just a mere gathering of information from books and other printed materials. It entails several factors to fully comprehend the information gathered.

On the other hand, another group of researchers stated that “Reading is a continuously developing skill” (Frankel et al. 13). Since reading has been defined as something to work on continuously, it is best to start at the earliest time possible.

Models of Reading can be categorized into Three:

People varies to some extent so as the way an individual read. The step-by-step process people prefer to use when reading is termed by reading experts as “Model”.  

The Bottom-up Model

Gough, Philip B. (1972), a reading theorist view reading as “comprehension takes place in a linear order of processing from individual letters to words, phrases to sentences, and finally, discourse to comprehending the message conveyed by the writer through the text”.

It can be assumed that in order to understand the whole paragraph, a reader must have deep understanding of the meaning of each word that comprises a sentence.

The Bottom-up Model is being applied by people who are studying English for speakers of other language.[1]

The Top-down Model

Contrary to the Bottom-up reading model, the Top-down approach is brain-centered. Readers tend to base their comprehension of written texts from their prior knowledge.  Since readers start from whole to part, it is easy for them to conclude the meaning of the text without focusing merely on the meaning of words.  It is where context cues come in.[2]

The Interactive Model

The Interactive Reading model uses both significant approaches of the Top-down and Bottom-up models. The integration of the two reading models aim to lessen the difficulty readers incur while reading. 

Hence, it was concluded by Pearson and his co-researcher that in the Interactive Reading model, readers derive meaning by integrating their prior knowledge to the information suggested in the text.

What can Reading do for Children?

Reading plays a big role to a child’s holistic development. It enables to broaden your little one’s horizons which will have enormous effects not just on your child’s academic performance at school but also on attaining numerous successes in the future. One study successfully proved that winning in life starts by obtaining simple knowledge through enjoyable reading during the early childhood (Sullivan 6). 

Eager to know what reading can do for your child? The following are helpful facts about the benefits children can get from reading:

Reading when developed early fosters reading with pleasure. 

Doing something that you enjoy the most will surely last a lifetime. When you are so passionate about doing something, it means you feel happy and comfortable doing it so you’ll never get tired doing the same thing over and over.  This can also be applied to reading. When a child fell in love with reading, more or less he/she will spend hours reading books to fill his/her curiosity, uninterrupted, despite so many disturbing factors.[3]

A 2019 survey conducted by Harris Interactive showed that majority of people in France describe reading as not just a mere tool to sharpen their minds but also a recreational tool to relieve stress.

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I’ve Loved You Since Forever
This book will tighten the parent-child relationship. Children will love their parents more and value the efforts they exerted in nurturing them. It will also encourage more snuggling time with each other.

A child hooked into reading have endless possibilities to discover new things.

Reading is an adventure, once it has started your child’s imagination and vocabulary will also flourish.

A theologist assertively stated that “a child who is well-equipped with literacy skills and an intrinsically motivated reader has limitless possibilities to explore for himself the wealth of human experiences and knowledge as depicted in books ” (Deavers 2000). 

A child rich in vocabulary is more likely an eloquent and clever kid. Expressing ideas for an articulate kid is easy as a pie since ideas and words are endless and smooth-flowing.

Peek-a-boo Colors
This book is the perfect starter for kids to enrich their vocabulary, stimulates their creative and analytical side. Thus, paving their way to a more secured and stable future.

Children who are fond of reading have higher possibility of expanding their imagination. Through vivid languages in the story, the child is able to fantasize and imagine what is being portrayed in the story.

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This book enables children to experience the same journey as the characters do.  Spend precious moments with your kids by pretending to be one of the story characters and your kids will definitely love it! It will also lessen the screen time your kids have thus cutting down electricity bill.

Children began to exhibit empathy.

As the reading journey continues, children become aware of different life situations as depicted in stories. This experience makes them fully understand other people’s feelings and beliefs. Thus, making it possible for them to build and maintain healthy relationships with their peers.

Empathetic children are found to have a heightened ability to outsmart life’s complexity, leading to a happy and successful life.[4]

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Scribble Stones
This book is an eye-opener for children to value the uniqueness of even the simplest and ordinary things. Doing the activities included in this book will surely enhance children’s creativity.
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How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them
This book will bring the quality of friendliness out of children. Thus, making it possible for them to blend in and interact well with other people.

Children who passionately read excel academically.

The love for reading has paved the way to unleash people’s potential.  The ability of the child to perform better at school depends on the knowledge acquired through reading. For that reason, parents must encourage and motivate children to read while incorporating fun and engaging activities with them.

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Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three
Parents will familiarize themselves with helpful techniques that will enable their children to explore and learn independently at the same time. It will also save a lot of your time and effort tailing them, as they started to become independent. Hence, interfering with them will be minimized.
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10 Things I can Do to Help My World
This book will impart important lessons to children of the simplest things we can contribute to a safe and healthy environment. Children will appreciate and value things around them, enabling them to be thrifty and responsible individuals at an early age.

Subsequently, children who are known to perform excellently at school commonly received compliments and consequently boost their self-esteem.

Helpful Tips to Help Children to Read

Most parents and teachers would agree that teaching kids aren’t an easy task. One has to have patience, perseverance, creativity, and passion.  Shun the struggle and stress for here are tips and tricks on how to help kids learn to read and enjoy at the same time:

Start reading to your little one as early as pregnancy. 

During pregnancy, expecting mothers have high hopes of developing healthy and intelligent children. To meet their expectations, they keep themselves away from stress and hard work and take adequate nutrients. To eliminate stress from the equation, some would listen to music while others opt to read books.

Inger stipulated in her study that “The ear begins its development as early as the 22nd day of gestation and the unborn child has the capability of storing information ‘heard’ as early as in the first trimester of pregnancy”.[5] Reading aloud to your unborn child is one approach you’ll never regret as you introduce the fundamental skill needed to communicate well later in life.

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Welcome My Love: Oh, how we anticipate your arrival!
This book is a powerful tool to set an affectionate connection with your unborn child. It contains profound words of wisdom suited to be the firsts your unborn child should hear. Expectant parents will love their unborn child more.

Introduce Nursery Rhymes to your Kids to increase phonemic awareness  

An amazing way to begin your child’s language learning journey. Not only he will enjoy singing fun-filled songs with you but will also help your child develop phonemic awareness[6] leading to improvement of their language skills.[7]

Chanting with children will also make learning fun and exciting. For example, when teaching kids new words such as reading, writing, and etc. divide the words first into syllables. The word “reading” will become /rea/ /ding/ – /ˈriː.dɪŋ/. Say the word per syllable while clapping your hands twice (corresponds to the number of syllables each word has). Do this several times while letting your child repeat after you. Rest assured, they will enjoy doing this! It is proven effective too.

Provide them with High Quality Materials

Never be reluctant to invest in something that will change your child’s life big time. Children possessing informative materials suited to their age permit them to nourish themselves mentally.

Burns, Griffin, and Snow found out that the best way to prepare children for reading instruction in the early grades, it that they are exposed to the high-quality language and literacy environments in their homes, daycare centers, and preschools”.

The following are superb educational materials each child needs:

  1. Picture books are highly recommended by reading experts children should have.
  • Flashcards are impressively useful materials, perfect for beginner students.         

Aslan, in his pursuit of effective vocabulary teaching, found out that using flashcards can be very useful for beginner-level students as they can activate brain cells while associating the words with the pictures. Additionally, students can learn new words easily in a short time when compared to other ways of learning vocabulary.

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My First Touch and Feel Picture Cards: First Words (My 1st T&F Picture Cards
These artistic and educational cards won't fail your expectations in getting your kids' attention. Its vibrant color is enticing enough to make your child actively participate in the interactive activities you will set with him. This will result to the child being equipped with social skills.
  • Puppets come in handy in role plays. Reading alone is not enough to engage children in storytelling. It is an interactive approach for a better and meaningful understanding of what has transpired in the story.
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Melissa & Doug Safari Buddies Hand Puppets
Children will develop their acting and narration skills while re-enacting the story using puppets. This skill will lead to the child landing a media-related job in the future.
  • Audio books

The best way of assessing children’s understanding is to have them retell what they heard.

  • Charts and Posters

Tisot and Evans stipulated in their research that all level of students obtain great benefits from visual materials (6).   Hence, visual materials must be readily available at the child’s study corner.

Provide a Conducive Learning Environment

A series of studies on the physical environment resulted in the development of children’s cognitive and social competency and the learning environment as interrelated (Moore 1994, Moore 2002).

A conducive environment enables children to have fast-paced and meaningful learning. With this regard, parents must mimic the environment pre-schools and library has.

Parents • Children • Home: Creating A Supportive Learning Environment During A Pandemic & Beyond
This book will guide parents on mimicking the learning environment at school. It will make holistic learning feasible for children. Parents will feel a sense of pride seeing their children becoming into an achiever.

Make Reading a Daily Routine 

Establishing a reading routine will allow children to develop the habit of reading. Once children develop this habit, it will be easier for them to sustain this for a lifetime.  As the reading activity being sustained, reading skills will gradually improve.

Be Creative!

To successfully attain literacy among children, one must use a strategic approach. Tenured teachers would agree that innovative lesson planning always comes with creativity.

Gregerson, Snyder, and Kaufmamn found out that “Creative individuals tend to be open- minded, willing to consider possibilities, and able to tolerate ambiguity while contemplating an idea”.

Hence, being creative while teaching kids to read is very crucial as it gives parents unlimited ideas to incorporate into their child’s learning needs. It is also helpful to assess your child’s likes and dislikes as it is crucial in determining the appropriate learning tools and techniques your child needs.

Here are creative ways to engage children interests in learning:

  1. Prompting enables children to recall the events in the story by giving them clues.
  2. Establish a connection between your child and the characters in the story. Choose one character in the story in which your child can draw valuable life lessons from. Ask questions like “What gift would you like to receive if you were him/her?”. 
  • Board Games are the best! This will reinforce a fun and stress-free interaction with children. Take advantage while playing with them to instill information to your children’s young mind.

Lloyd stated in his research that applying the multi-sensory approach is a very effective way of teaching (pp. 11).

QIJK Matching Letter Game, Kids Educational Toys Alphabet Puzzle Learning Memory Game with Flash Cards Develop Vocabulary and Spelling Skills for Preschool Toddlers Gifts
This is by far an amazing way to learn while enjoying at the same time. Additionally, children can develop skills and techniques to win the game which will enable them to outsmart the complexities of life.

“The most important factors for promoting creativity are personality, knowledge, motivation, thinking and learning styles, teaching styles, assessments, rewards and environment (Ukozor, Oguguo, & Okorie, 2016)”.

Compliment your child

Always remember to appreciate your kids’ efforts by complimenting them with rewards. Rewards can be anything that will motivate them to pursue reaching their full potential.  It shouldn’t be costly to avoid taking the reward as a bribe.[8]It can be a star you created for them to attach to their reward boards. A mouthwatering dessert you personally made for them. Any Do-it-Yourself stuff they will definitely cherish. Or perhaps, a hug filled with love and warmth will do. Praising them with complimenting words would also be motivating.  

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Learning Resources Good Job Reward Chart, Custom Magnetic Chore and Responsibility Chart for Kids, 91 Piece Set, Ages 3+
This reward chart will strongly encourage children to exhibit a positive learning attitude toward a meaningful learning journey. It will also boost a child’s self-esteem in no time.

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FAQs

What is the best teaching method that would help children to read faster?

The game-based learning approach hasn’t failed to capture children’s attention, consequently engaging them in a fun-filled learning journey. This approach will not just encourage your little one’s active participation but will also foster independent learning by letting them do some tasks with little supervision. 

How to teach a child with reading difficulty?

Learning a new skill requires following a step-by-step process. The same is through reading. For a child to easily cope up with reading, he must familiarize himself with all the letter sounds, then reading satisfactorily will follow. 

How to test your child’s reading skills?

Assessing your child’s reading ability is a crucial stage in learning. To do this, let your child read a passage suited to your child’s age, then ask him questions about what he has read[10]. You can also ask your child to retell the story using puppets or put it into illustrations. Through these, you’ll be able to easily assess your child’s comprehension in a fun and engaging way. 

Conclusion

Children are unique individuals. An approach might work for other children to learn faster, but not the same as yours. Don’t be pressured for your child’s momentum to learn hasn’t come yet. Alternatively, look for an approach that would cater to your child’s needs. As long as you have patience, you’ll be amazed to see how talented and competitive your child can be.


[1] Villanueva De Debat, Elba “Applying Current Approaches to the Teaching of Reading English Teaching Forum, v44 n1, 2006, pp. 8-15

[2] Smith argued that the best way to understand unfamiliar words is to look for cues/hints surrounding the target word in the text.

[3] Sullivan, Alice “The Life-Long Benefits of Reading for Pleasure” British Educational Research

Journal, 2015, pp. 5-6

[4] Borba, Michele “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in our All-About-Me World” Simon and Schuster, 2016, pp. 13-14

[5] Inger, Marie Amtmann “Music for the Unborn Child” International Journal for Music Education, 1997, vol 1, pp. 66-72

[6] Phonemic Awareness as defined by Burns, Griffin, and Snow as becoming sensitive to the sounds, as well as the meanings, of spoken words (31).

[7] Burns et al. “Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success” National Academy of Sciences – National Research Council,1999, pp. 32

[8] Cambridge Dictionary defined Bribe as to try to make someone do something for you by giving him or her money, presents, or something else that he or she wants.

[9] Barbara, Nicoll “Developing Minds: Critical Thinking in K-3” Guides – Classroom – Teacher; Speeches/Meeting Papers, 2013, pp. 11

[10] Rhea, A., Baenen, N. (2007). Evaluation & Research Department “Project IRIs: Intensive Reading Intervention Study, A Three-Year Follow-Up”, E&R Report No. 06.20, pp. 1- 21

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Author

Vivian Perry

Vivian Perry

Mother of 3 kids. Enjoy reading parenting books and studied child care degree. Vivian loves to learn and write about parenting tips and help her kids to grow positively with grit mindset.

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