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Help Your Child Learn To Read

Ten ways to help preschoolers and school-age students learn to read.

1. Introduce literacy early. There are hundreds of studies showing the benefits of reading to your children when they are young.

2. Talk to your kids (a lot).

Reading is a language activity, and if you want to learn the language, you need to hear it, and eventually, you will speak it. A variety of words will help in development of literacy skills.

3. Read to your kids.

Reading to kids exposes them to richer vocabulary than they usually hear from the adults who speak to them, and can have positive impacts on their language, intelligence, and later literacy achievement.

4. Have them tell you a “story.”

One great way to introduce kids to literacy is to have them recount an experience or make up a story.

5. Teach phonemic awareness.

Young children don’t hear the sounds within words. Thus, they hear “dog,” but not the “duh”-“aw”- “guh.” To become readers, they have to learn to hear these sounds (or phonemes). Play language games with your child. For instance, say a word, perhaps her name, and then change it by one phoneme.

6. Teach phonics (letter names and their sounds).

You can’t sound out words or write them without knowing the letter sounds. Most kindergartens teach the letters, and parents can teach them, too. Keep the lessons brief and fun, no more than 5–10 minutes for young’uns.

7. Listen to your child read.

When your child starts bringing books home from school, have her read to you. If it doesn’t sound good (mistakes, choppy reading), have her read it again. Or read it to her, and then have her try to read it herself. Studies show that this kind of repeated oral reading makes students better readers, even when it is done at home.

8. Promote writing.

Literacy involves reading and writing. Encourage your child to write. One way to do this is to write notes or short letters. It won’t be long before she/he is trying to write back to you.

9. Ask questions.

When your child reads, get them to retell the story or information.

10. Make reading a regular activity in your home.

Make reading a part of your daily life, and kids will learn to love it. The point is to make reading a regular enjoyable part of your family routine.


Ritchie, S.J., & Bates, T.C. (2013). Enduring links from childhood mathematics and reading achievement to adult socioeconomic status. Psychological Science, 24, 1301-1308.

Karass J., & Braungart-Rieker J. (2005). Effects of shared parent-infant reading on early language acquisition. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 133-148.


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