First graders typically are still learning how to decode words and also are responsible for memorizing a list of grade-level sight words. Common first grade literacy skills include understanding vowel sounds, decoding consonant blends, sorting words by categories (i.e. colors, numbers, etc.) and reaching a specific end-of-year reading level (this could vary by the reading system used).
Parents often want to help their first grader read more fluently and more confidently. If a child is reading below grade-level expectations or struggles with certain literacy skills, there are many ways to provide help. Use these 10 tips for first-grade reading practice to help young readers build confidence and gain a love or appreciation for the reading journey.
- Read to children everyday
- Let children choose their books
- Re-read favorite books
- Play reading games
- Practice sight words daily
- Talk about books
- Visit a book destination
- Sign up for a library card
- Embrace positivity when helping children
- Use a reading app
Read Daily and Read Often
The number one tip to help first graders with reading is to encourage the reading habit. Read to children every day or ask them to read to parents. Practice is essential for children to feel more confident and to become read more fluently.
If parents want to read to children, that’s ok. Reading to children still counts as reading. In fact, many teachers encourage parents to read aloud to their young children.
When parents read a book aloud, though, they also should talk about the book. Ask children what’s happening or discuss the characters. Focus on the w/h questions of comprehension: who, what, where, when, why and how.
Parents also can (and should!) use different voices for characters. Read the story with feeling; this will teach children to do the same. In addition, reading emotively also helps children understand the feelings and/or motivations of characters.
When children take the lead in reading, parents can help them out if they stumble. Parents and children also can alternate between who reads and who listens.
Give Children the Choice
Letting children choose their books helps them feel empowered in the reading journey. Not everyone likes the same types of books. Allowing children to choose helps them to figure out what stories they like and which ones they dislike.
While it can be tempting for parents to simply give a child a book and tell them to read it, assigned reading could backfire and actually make children dislike books and stories.
Re-Read Favorite Books
Some children love a certain book and want to read it again and again. Encourage re-reading. When a child reads a book a second, third or 100th time, they could spot something new. In addition, that reading practice might help them quickly identify words and read more fluently.
If children just want to keep reading the same books, parents can negotiate a middle ground. Let children pick two favorite books and two new books to read.
Play Games to Help with Reading
Play can help children learn. When children are struggling to identify letters or learn different reading skills, play reading games.
Parents can download free reading apps that are designed as games to help children with phonics and other literacy skills. Parents might even make their own reading games. Create a comprehension beach ball, play a match game with upper and lowercase letters, etc.
Encourage First-Graders to Practice Sight Words
Parents can help them gain mastery of the sight word list by encouraging children to practice the list every day. Some children learn best by practicing with flashcards; parents can make their own cards at home (don’t forget to shuffle them each time).
In addition, parents also can play Sight Word Match with children. Create two cards of each sight word, mix up the cards and place them face down. Then take turns making matches. When children flip over a card, encourage them to say the word.
Talk about Reading
Parents can talk to children about the books that they are reading. This doesn’t have to be about quizzing children, though. Ask questions. Talk about the characters.
Can children explain the book? Do they seem to understand it? Sometimes talking about books and stories can help parents understand a child’s struggle. Then they can take steps to work with children or find other ways to help them.
Visit a Book Destination
Take a book field trip. When talking about a book with children, ask them where the story takes place. Find a museum or someplace nearby that relates to the book or that mirrors a character’s journey. This is called a book field trip.
Children will enjoy walking in the footsteps of a favorite character; the field trip also can introduce them to new ideas or new adventures.
Allow Children to Have a Library Card
Signing up for a library card is a bit of a childhood rite of passage. This card lets children check out books (although parents are still responsible) and could be another ticket to more reading adventures.
Explore the children’s section of the library and let young card holders pick out a few favorite titles.
Be Positive When Providing Help
Some children need more help with reading than others. Parents can feel frustrated when they are trying to help children and their child is still struggling. Be patient. Understand that reading can be hard for some children.
When children struggle to sound out a word, help them break the word into parts. Encourage them to identify the sounds of each letter then blend them together. Be positive and don’t forget to praise children when they master a difficult word.
Use a Reading App
When children are struggling to read, parents might not always know the best way to provide help. Maybe they’ve tried to help children sound out words or work on blends, but the child is still unable to master a concept.
A reading app that is designed with a lesson-based approach could be beneficial for struggling readers. In fact, Readability even includes a built-in AI tutor that is designed to recognize a child’s voice and provide help when a child is struggling with fluency, letter sounds or blends.
At the end of each story, Readability’s AI tutor also asks children questions about what they read. These questions are designed to measure a child’s comprehension. However, if the child answers a question incorrectly, the tutor will show them a passage from the story with clues about the answer. The tutor will also read the section aloud. Then the child can try to answer the question again.
Readability is leveled to ensure that stories are appropriate for each child’s reading ability. Readability includes nonfiction and fiction stories; children can read about their favorite athletes and meet new characters, too.
Every book in Readability also encourages children to explore. While every story includes a list of vocabulary words, children can tap any word in the story to hear the meaning or hear it used in a sentence. The discovered words are added to a child’s word bank, and they can review these words over and over again.
Not every reading program is a perfect fit for every child. Readability offers a free seven-day trial period that encourages children and parents to understand and explore the program’s features and benefits. If Readability is a fit, parents can continue on with a monthly subscription. Interested in trying Readability? Sign up for a free trial today!