10 Tips on How to Help Kids Learn to Read

October 1, 2021

How to Help Kids Learn to Read

Developing reading skills at a young age can help children as they enter preschool and kindergarten; exposure to stories also has been shown to help develop vocabulary. In fact, a study conducted by Ohio State University showed that children whose parents read to them (five books per day) took in more than one million more words than those children whose parents didn’t read to them.

Hearing words, per the study, could help with recognition when children are exposed to those words in school. Teaching children to learn to read can start early; here are 10 tips on how to help kids learn to read…even before they begin kindergarten.

How to Help Kids Learn to Read

1. Read every day!

The number one tip nods to the Ohio State study. Read to children every day! Aim for reading five books per day. When reading to young children, these books can be short in length. However, some children also could enjoy longer stories.

While many families might have a bookshelf filled with books, it’s also great to introduce new books. This is a great time to start visiting the local library. If parents don’t already have a library card, think about getting one! Then take children to the library each week to check out new books.

Let them choose the stories they want to hear or read. Each night, read a variety of books…including the new options from the library. Parents also could choose to read chapter books to children; just be sure that they aren’t too complicated. Some stories could be difficult for younger children to follow.

Exposure to new words is beneficial, and hearing all those new words can give them an advantage when they begin kindergarten.

2. Play word games

Rhyming words could help children with sounds, and these words allow children to find words that sound similar. Play word games with children to help them identify words with similar sounds.

Ask children to find words that rhyme with other words. Going on an errand? Find a word and use that as the focus. Maybe the child has to think of a word that rhymes with ring.

Parents also could go on a sound scavenger hunt. Pick a letter from the alphabet and encourage children to find different objects that start with that letter.  This can be a fun game to play at stores.

How to Help Kids Learn to Read

3. Practice the alphabet with children

Learning the alphabet can be one of the first steps in reading. Children need to identify all the letters (upper and lowercase) in the alphabet and understand the sounds each letter makes.

Parents can sing the alphabet song with children. They can also help children practice writing the alphabet or simply learn to identify the letters. There are many learning toys, puzzles and games that can be a fun way for children to practice their alphabet identification.

Children can also learn to trace letters in sand or use finger paints to make letters. These could be great sensory exercises, too. 

4. Sound it out

As children begin to learn the sounds of each letter, parents can help them practice their skills when reading short books. Parents can encourage children to begin to sound out words as they read together.

Easy words—also known as sight words—also could be committed to memory. Some early sight words that children will be expected to know in kindergarten include colors and numbers as well as simple words like I, Is, We, Yes, No, etc.

5. Play matching games

Parents also could buy (or make) a card matching game to help children practice word identification. Children should match the picture to the word. Or parents can write the words beneath the pictures. This could help children make the connection between the word and the object.

6. Download online apps

Whether parents have an iPhone or an Android, there are many apps that can be used to help young children practice reading skills. Many of these apps are designed as games, which makes phonics and reading lessons much more fun!

App-based games can go almost anywhere. Parents can download them on their smartphone or a tablet. Children can sit in the cart at the grocery store and practice their skills, and they can even play these word games while sitting on the bleachers during a sibling’s sports practice.

Learning to read doesn’t have to be focused on stringent lessons. Using games to practice letter identification and even to practice sight words can transform the lesson into a fun diversion.

While many games are free, some have a price. Some games also offer in-app purchases (which could result in surprise charges), but parents can turn off this option via their phone or device.

How to Help Kids Learn to Read

7. Tell stories

Getting children interested in reading and learning to read doesn’t have to always focus on scholastic-based skills. Telling stories could help children get interested in reading, too.

Parents can begin a story and take turns with children adding to that story. Create characters and plot twists. When someone gets stumped, then it might be time to end the story. Ask children how the story should end. And talk about the story the family created. 

As children get older, parents could encourage them to write their own stories. Create a book and have children design the cover with a colorful illustration. They also can add pictures inside their book, too. Staple it all together for their first published piece.

8. Visit a library storytime event

It takes a village to raise a child! Parents shouldn’t feel that they are the only ones who can stoke their child’s interest in books and stories. Research story time opportunities at the local library. Children can sit and listen to new stories, and then pick out more books after the event.

Some libraries even offer craft projects at their storytime events. Libraries also could host meet and greets with authors; meeting a favorite author also could be another way to boost a child’s interest in stories. Meet and greets help children put a face to the name of the author who writes their favorite books and stories.

9. Encourage children to participate in summer reading programs

When children enter school, they are constantly exposed to lessons and enrichment opportunities. Their days are spent learning and growing their skills. Unfortunately, when schools shut down for long breaks (like summer), some children might not have much exposure to books or other educational resources. The break and lack of educational enrichment might cause them to lose reading or math skills; this is called the summer slide.

Many local libraries host summer reading programs to encourage children to read during the long break. This can help ensure that kids don’t lose those skills…and could even help them boost their proficiency. To help combat learning losses, sign up children for summer reading programs and encourage them to read books during the long breaks. For younger children who are just learning to read, parents can read to them.

10. Use lesson-based reading programs

Some parents might want their younger children to have a lesson-based instruction in reading. They may notice that their child exhibits a precocious reading ability or simply has a well developed grasp of word and letter recognition.

Not every preschooler, however, is ready to read. Children may develop later than others. Yet, children who do have an excellent grasp of sounds, letters and word recognition may want to begin the next step in their reading journey.

Some children begin kindergarten reading fluently. These children might simply be natural readers; they may love books and stories. They may gravitate to words. Parents might decide to use a lesson-based reading program like Readability to move them ahead in their reading journey.

Readability is ideal for children in pre-K and through fifth grade. This means that children can use the program throughout elementary school to practice their reading skills. Parents can be assured that content is leveled to match their child’s ability. A preschooler will not be expected to read more difficult stories until they show mastery of easier text. 

Preschoolers also may enjoy the program’s immersive story content. Readability features colorful illustrations to break up the story text and help children picture the story as they read. The program also allows children to click on words to discover their meaning.

One of Readability’s hallmark features, though, is the built-in AI tutor. This personal tutor includes voice recognition software that allows it to understand each child’s voice. When a child reads, the tutor can help identify any pronunciation errors and offer assistance. The tutor also will ask questions at the end of each story to test a child’s comprehension of the book or story. 

When children show mastery of both story comprehension and reading fluency, they move to the next level within the program. Parents can follow their child’s individual reading journey via a portal called the Parent Dashboard. This displays the child’s reading level, words read per minute and the length of time the child used Readability. Parents can also transform this data into a reading report that can be emailed to the child’s teacher.

Many preschoolers are beginning to discover the early fundamentals of reading. For parents who feel that their child is ready to begin reading stories on their own, Readability could be a great option to provide precocious readers with a formalized reading platform.

Not every program is right for every child, and parents may be researching the pricing and features of different programs. Readability allows parents to try out the program with their child for free for seven days; this lets children explore the program and become familiar with the AI tutor.  

Interested in using Readability to move a young reader to the next level? Try Readability today!