How Can I Help My First Grader with Reading?

July 26, 2022

How Can I Help My First Grader with Reading

In first grade, children are still learning some of the basics of reading. They’re sounding out words, answering the w/h questions of comprehension and reading shorter books and stories independently.

While some precocious readers could be reading small chapter books, this isn’t really the expectation for many first grade students. Parents could notice their first grader struggling with basic literacy skills and wonder “how can I help my first grader with reading?”

There are many strategies parents can use to help children read proficiently. The earlier that parents catch reading struggles, the better position parents might be in for helping their child gain confidence and proficiency.

Reading Help for 1st Graders

Reading Help for 1st Graders

Parents who need to provide reading help for 1st graders can use different strategies, activities and follow a few tips. However, the goal should be to help children gain fluency while encouraging them to have fun with reading.

While parents might want to focus on pushing their child to focus and practice their reading, taking a rigid approach could make children resistant to help, cause them anxiety or even just make them dislike reading.

Ideally, parents should try to make reading fun. In first grade, children can still learn through play and a hands-on approach. Parents also need to understand their child’s individual reading struggles.

Does the child have trouble with comprehension? Are they struggling with phonics skills and decoding? Maybe they just don’t feel comfortable reading aloud.

Children don’t have the same struggles and finding the best ways to help each child requires understanding their individualized learning needs.

How Can I Help My First Grader with Reading

The Best Reading Programs for 1st Graders

Reading programs can help children gain reading proficiency and help them overcome their struggles. The best reading programs should address the child’s struggles. The best reading programs for 1st graders also should include these features:

  • Colorful illustrations

First graders might be overwhelmed with too much text. Stories in reading programs should include colorful imagery that helps add context to the story. These illustrations also help capture a child’s attention.

  • Interactive Features

Children don’t want to simply read books and stories aloud. They want a fun adventure, and they want to be able to explore the stories. Choose reading programs that connect with a child’s curiosity. 

Readability lets children tap any word in a book to hear the definition or hear it used in a sentence. Not only does this help build a child’s vocabulary, but it’s also a fun way to encourage them to explore elements of the story.

  • Leveled Content

When children struggle to read, they need books on their level. Lessons shouldn’t be too hard, but they also shouldn’t be boring and easy. Readability starts children off on their reading level and advances them to more difficult content only when they are ready.

  • Audio Content

First graders still love having stories read aloud to them. Reading programs need to encourage independent reading because that’s how children become better readers. However, programs also should offer audiobook options. Readability provides a Storytime feature that lets children listen to their favorite stories. They can follow along in the book as the narrator reads to them; hearing stories can help children identify emotions and pick up on other subtleties, too.

  • Measurable Progress

Parents want to know that the reading program benefits their child. With Readability, children read stories aloud. The program includes a built-in AI tutor that features voice-recognition software.

As the child reads aloud, the AI tutor is listening for any errors or to identify if the child needs help. When a child stumbles or cannot pronounce a word, the tutor will provide assistance.

At the end of each story, the tutor also asks questions about the story to measure the child’s comprehension. If a child answers the question incorrectly, the tutor will show a section of the story that provides clues to the answer. The child then can try and answer the question again.

Parents can review their child’s reading progress via a parent-only portal. This portal shows parents their child’s reading level, comprehension, reading fluency (measured in words read per minute) and even how long the child used the program. With Readability, parents always know if their child is progressing.

How to Help 1st Grader with Reading with Games and Activities

Reading should be fun. To encourage children to appreciate and enjoy books and stories, parents can take a whimsical approach to providing help. Games and activities can help children learn while having fun. These reading games are just a few ways to encourage children to practice their reading skills:

  • Sight Word Match or Go Fish

Play card games to practice sight words. Parents can make two cards of each word for a match game or four cards of each for Go Fish. When playing match games, shuffle the cards, place them face down and take turns flipping over two cards. Encourage children to say each word. With Go Fish, shuffle the cards and play the game by the standard rules (asking for words, though).

  • Create Wordless Books

Wordless books are words with only pictures. Children can draw their own wordless books and read them to their parents. With these books, children create the story from the pictures. The plot of wordless books can change each time. Through wordless books, children can better understand the parts of the story and how each part is important to the narrative.

  • Comprehension Catch

Take a standard beach ball and write w/h questions (who, what, where, when, why and how) on different sections. After the child reads a book, play comprehension. Toss the ball and whatever section faces up is the prompt they need to address. Parents should play, too.

  • Sound Scavenger Hunts

First graders who struggle with understanding phonics and sounds can practice by going on a sound scavenger hunt. Parents can have them hunt for items with a specific letter sound, blend, etc. Children can see how many items they can find at stores or on errands with parents.

My 1st Grader is Struggling with Reading, Can a Reading Program Help?

For children who are struggling with reading, parents might consider using a reading program for a more guided approach to address their struggles. Reading programs are beneficial as they can help children gain confidence while helping them work on fundamental reading skills.

Every program is different and parents should research the program that best addresses their concerns and helps with their child’s particular reading struggles. Some programs—including Readability—are designed to focus on fluency, comprehension and vocabulary skills, too.

While some reading apps available on Google Play or the App Store are free, reading apps that are designed as lesson-based programs often require a subscription. However, parents might discover that these programs often offer a free trial period that allows them to access the program to better understand the features.

Not every program will resonate with every child. Free trial periods let children explore stories and the program features. Parents can watch as their child uses the program to better gauge their child’s interest and engagement.

Readability offers a free seven-day trial period that lets children access all the features of the program. Children can work with the AI tutor and read stories during this time. Readability is designed for children in preschool through fifth grade, and first graders who struggle to read can use Readability throughout their elementary years to encourage reading growth and confidence.

Interested in exploring Readability? Sign up for a free trial period today.