I remember being a young mama and feeling the weight of teaching my oldest kiddo to read. Reading and math are the building blocks of all other learning and it can feel like a lot of pressure. I have now taught my four children to read and I want to share some ways to encourage your child to read, whether you’re a homeschool parent or you simply want to work with your child at home.
When my oldest was three, I began to think about how I would teach her to read. She knew how to sing her ABC’s and my husband and I were still praying about whether we would homeschool, or not.
For some reason, teaching the basics seemed both easy and hard. I knew I could do fun games with my preschooler and help her to memorize her letters, but how would I teach her to put the pieces together and actually read?
After teaching four children to read, and having kids who learned at different paces, I feel like I have picked up a few tips that might be helpful as you work with your own child.
Reading is an incredible journey for a child. When the lightbulb goes off, it is the sweetest sight ever. I hope you walk away from this post feeling like you have a few strategies for your home and also some encouragement to spur you on.
Be a Reader Yourself
Are you a reader? To be honest, neither my husband, nor myself, are readers. We read when we were growing up because we had to for school.
I knew early on that “forcing” my kids to read wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted them to love reading. One of the many reasons I hope for them to develop a desire to soak up information through reading is because we were given a bible to read and I think that shows how important reading is.
One way to encourage your kids to love reading is by them seeing you enjoy reading. I read my bible every day and usually have another book of some sort that I’m thumbing through.
If your kids see you reading during your free time, they will naturally begin to think that reading is a good past time. I still remember seeing my mom reading when I was young. It has had a lasting impact on me.
Read Aloud to your Child Often
No matter how young your children are, read aloud to them often. When my kids were little, I would read for hours out of the day to them. They would play and I would read. I would rock them and read. There were always books around us.
If you create a culture of literature in your home, that very thing will encourage your child to pick up a book.
Reading aloud can be done in several ways. The important thing is that they are hearing fluent reading happening in the home.
Find a Solid Curriculum and Stick with It
If your child is old enough to learn to read (anywhere from 3 to 5 years old), then find an age appropriate curriculum and begin some formal learning.
Every kid learns at a different pace. Find a curriculum that fits your family’s needs and stick with it. Take it slowly, if you need to, but don’t give up.
Each well-done curriculum is written to foster success, but most of the time it takes time. It takes practice and your child seeing the same concepts over and over again.
If you decide to move forward with a curriculum, keep it simple, keep it fun, and keep it a positive experience. Do not get discouraged as the parent. They will get it, and when they do, it will make all of the work worth it.
Help Your Child Feel Successful
Help your child feel successful by choosing reading materials that are at his level. Choose books that he will find interesting and exciting. It’s always good to have picture books so your child can learn context clues from the photos.
Teach your young child how to examine the pictures before reading the words so he can use what he’s seen as a guide for his reading.
When your child is reading and comes to a word he can’t quite decode, help him to divide the words into blends, or syllables, to give him a strategy to use when he comes to a difficult word later.
Be sure to give lots of praise when he finally decodes those hard words.
Keep Reading Fun
Reading can be laborious, but we want our children to love reading. Be sure to choose books that enhance their enjoyment, instead of stifling it.
Some simple ways to keep reading fun is by not adding too much pressure. Let this be something that you and your child sit and do together for quality time. It should be something that draws him to you and not something that causes strife or worry.
Acting out books can make reading more enjoyable. One reason children don’t love to read is because they struggle to create pictures in their mind as they read. Having a visual is most of the fun of reading!
Another way to keep reading fun is by choosing some books that your child can relate to real life. Do you live on a farm? Then, pick some farm books that will help solidify the things your child already knows, while helping him to learn a few more things.
Listen to Audiobooks
I read to my children all of the time when they were little. Once they got older and we were reading lots of chapter books, I began to slip in this regard.
One way I filled the gaps was by doing audiobooks for my kids. We started by buying some CDs for them to play in their CD players. They could put the audiobooks on while they played in their rooms or while they fell asleep at night.
Then, we transitioned to audiobooks from our library. We rent them through our library’s app and stream them on a device. The kids will all sit in the living room and color, knit, or do legos while they listen to an audiobook.
Having your child listen to good literature will develop their love for good literature. If you struggle with reading as much as you’d like to, grab some audiobooks for your kids to listen to while you make supper.
Small Progress is still Progress
Be encouraged… and encourage your little ones, at any sign of progress. I have had children learn to read so quickly and others take a bit more time.
Some of my children were eager and others seemed to have no interest in reading. Yet, we stayed the course and now I have four children who want to read.
Any little step forward is worth celebrating because reading is hard. It takes time for things to make sense in their little brains and for them to make connections between what they see and what they hear, so be patient and lavish them in praise when they succeed.
Limit Electronic Time
This might be seemingly unrelated, but the more time kids spend on electronics, the less exciting the written word will be.
Reading takes effort and imagination. Electronics do all of the heavy lifting for you. Allow your children the chance to dive into books.
Electronics aren’t all bad and they can come in handy from time to time, but limit the time on electronics if you want to encourage your little ones to love reading.
Free Book List Printable
Printables are a great way to keep track of progress and to motivate kids to read. Write books that the child is working on in the “working on” column. Once the child has mastered the book, he can move the book title over to “mastered.”
This is a simple way for you to motivate your child and for both of you to monitor progress!