Reading opens up a whole new world for children. You can help your child discover that world by starting their reading lessons at a young age. After all, one of the wonders of bringing up your child is sitting quietly with them and reading a book together. This stimulates their curiosity and introduces them to the sounds and sequences of words.
But teaching your child to read is also a process that involves many steps. These steps include making the connection between groups of letters, the sounds of the words, and their meanings. The three keys for teaching your children to read — or get your child to the reading level that they should be for their age or grade — are improving decoding skills, building comprehension skills, and boosting reading retention.
Strong Decoding Skills
Creating better decoding skills starts with phonics. Phonics is defined as “a method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters in an alphabetic writing system.” Any good reading curriculum will have a strong foundation in phonics, but you can also help your child distinguish sounds and letters by:
- Focusing on “irregular” words while you’re reading. These are words that don’t follow the standard phonics rules, such as gnat, knight, or said.
- Use creative ways to practice letter combinations, such as using paints or crayons, writing with chalk on the sidewalk, or using refrigerator magnets or alphabet soup.
- Practice words by using everyday items in the house such as milk containers or soup cans and reading out the ingredients (e.g., po-ta-toes).
- Play board games or computer games with your child, especially those that involve word puzzles, and read the instructions out loud together.
One way to help your child get to the reading level for their grade is by improving their comprehension. Because just reading the words isn’t enough — they must also understand what they’re reading. You can do this by quizzing your child on the information they just read. Or, if your child is just learning to read, read a few sentences and then discuss what you just read.
Reading out loud also helps your child pronounce the words and grasp their meaning. Once they start processing individual words and sequences of words quickly they will improve their reading speed and comprehension. Playing fun vocabulary games introduces your child to the different meanings of words and how they are used in sentences. For example, ask your child for the meaning of a word and then ask them to use that word in a sentence.
The next step for building better reading skills is improving reading retention. Retention is the ability to remember what was read. One great tip for improving this skill is having your child read the instructions to a game or a recipe. Once they read it over ask them to repeat the instructions back to you. To make it more interactive — and gain a sweet reward — read the instructions for a fun recipe, like cookies, and then ask your child to repeat the steps as you complete the recipe together.
Rereading materials also helps your child retain the material. They can read lines to a favorite story and then explain to you what they read. If they have problems, have them reread the material. Reading out loud also improves reading retention, because your child is focusing more on the words than if they were simply reading to themselves.
Choosing a Curriculum for Better Reading Skills
Any successful reading curriculum will include these five essential categories:
- Phonemic awareness
- Reading comprehension
- Reading fluency
Some online curriculum options not only include those five categories, but may also provide exciting audio, graphics, and animation, individualized self-paced lessons, lessons created by experts, which often correlate with state and national standards, interactive projects, technical services and support, and so much more.
Learning to read should be fun for children of all ages. Boring activities often dampen their enthusiasm, that’s why online options have been a favorite for many homeschooling parents. Your children will be inspired to learn and improve their reading skills as they progress from Pre-K to 12th grade. Explore your options and start improving your child’s reading efforts today.
Time4Learning.com is an award-winning, comprehensive curriculum for PreK-12th that makes learning effective and engaging through animated lessons and activities. The online program teaches and grades lessons, tracks and records progress, and keeps reports to help simplify homeschool portfolios.
For over a decade, Time4Learning has helped more than 500,000 homeschooling families with its flexible and engaging curriculum, homeschool resources, and more. Our team of homeschool moms, homeschool dads, and support staff have come together to create helpful homeschool insights on subjects such as family, education, fun, and more!