Learning to read is not a ‘natural’ process that happens all on its own. It can be a rewarding, positive experience to teach various skills and strategies.
The good news is that although reading itself is a complex process, the steps to build these skills are fairly simple. Here are easy steps to use at home:
Use songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness.
Children’s songs and nursery rhymes aren’t just a lot of fun—the rhyme and rhythm help kids to hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps them learn to read. Clap rhythmically together and recite songs in unison.
Engage your child in a print-rich environment.
Create daily opportunities to build your child’s reading skills by creating a print rich environment with books, posters and word cards. Seeing printed words enables kids to see and apply connections between sounds and letter symbols.
Out and about.
Point out words and letters on signs and in shops. Focus on the first letter in words. Ask “What sound is that letter?” “What other word starts with that sound?”
Play word games.
Introduce simple word games. Focus on listening, identifying and manipulating the sounds in words. Use letter magnets on the fridge and pull the vowels to one side. Say a CVC word (consonant-vowel-consonant), for example ‘cat’, and ask your child to spell it using the magnets. To help them, say each vowel sound aloud (/ayh/, /eh/, /ih/, /awe/, /uh/) while pointing at its letter, and ask your child which one makes a sound similar to the middle sound.
Most of all, daily reading helps your child to develop a love of reading and strengthen comprehension skills. For younger children, encourage them to engage with the pictures. For older children, ask questions about what you’ve just read. “When did Sophie realize she had special powers?”
Every child learns at his or her own pace. By reading regularly, mixing things up with the activities, and letting your child pick out their own, you’ll instill an early love of reading.
Photo: Timur Weber