How to Teach Reading in Kindergarten

November 22, 2022

How to Teach Reading in Kindergarten

Children might learn to read at different ages. Some children are ready to read at a younger age; in fact, they might be reading before they start kindergarten. For other children, parents might work on pre-reading skills to help them have the readiness for reading when they start kindergarten.

When children enter kindergarten, they will be exposed to reading lessons that help to guide them on their reading journey. Parents can help their children beyond the classroom lessons, though. These 10 tips can help parents learn how to teach reading in kindergarten:

  1. Read to children daily.
  2. Practice sight words with children.
  3. Play reading games.
  4. Tell stories.
  5. Encourage independent reading.
  6. Utilize tools from the classroom.
  7. Take children to the library.
  8. Pay attention to book levels.
  9. Let children choose their own books.
  10. Use reading programs at home.

How to Teach Reading in Kindergarten

Read to Children Everyday

The easiest way to help children prepare for their reading journey is to read to them. Data shows that there exists a gap of more than a million words between children entering kindergarten who read at least five books daily and children whose parents didn’t read to them.

Children at this age still love to hear stories read aloud. While storytime should be fun, parents also should get into the habit of asking children questions as they read.

Focus on the w/h questions of comprehension: who, what, where, when, why and how. This can help children think about the story as they listen. Parents also can ask children their thoughts about characters in the book. Ask about feelings related to the characters.

Some books resonate with readers, others might not. Ask children if they liked the book. Talk about why the story was a miss, if they didn’t enjoy it and help children understand that it’s ok if they don’t enjoy a book.

Practice Sight Words

Kindergarten students will likely need to memorize a list of sight words; these might be taken from the Dolch List of Sight Words. These common words need to be identified by sight (thus, why they are dubbed ‘sight words’).

Mastering sight words is an important skill as this allows children to read some text automatically without needing to sound out the word. To ensure that children master their sight word list, parents should encourage them to practice daily.

Some children learn best by using flashcards. Parents can use index cards to create sight word flashcards. Mix up the cards so that children don’t simply memorize words in order.

Parents also can create games that help children with their sight words. Play ‘sight word match’ by making two cards with each sight word. Shuffle the cards and place them face down. Take turns making matches, and make sure children say the word when they flip each card.

Sight Word Go Fish also is a fun way to practice these words. To play Go Fish, make four cards for each sight word. Then play the game per the usual rules of Go Fish.

How to Teach Reading in Kindergarten

Play Reading Games

Reading games can help children practice sight words, but they also can help children recognize the letters of the alphabet, match rhyming words and more.

Both the App Store (for Apple) and Google Play (for Android devices) offer many apps that feature reading games. Many of these apps are free to download, although they may offer in-app purchases (this can be disabled on the device).

Parents don’t need to use technology to play reading games, though. Play ‘I Spy’ at stores or during errands to encourage children to ‘spy’ sight words, letters of the alphabet or even words or objects that rhyme.

Children can learn through play, and reading games could be a fun way to help them practice their reading skills without feeling like they are engaging in another lesson.

Tell Stories

Sharing stories and even making up stories can help bolster a child’s imagination and perhaps even help them understand the parts of a story, too. Parents can tell children stories about their childhood or even share folk stories related to their culture. Sharing stories is a great bonding experience (especially if it helps children better understand their culture and family history).

In addition, parents and children can play storytelling games. One person will begin a story and the next person has to add to the story. Typically, players will use a soft ball or simple object to pass to the next person when it’s their turn to add to the story. This game can result in some really interesting plots and characters. Have fun weaving the story.

Encourage Independent Reading

Children will progress in their reading journey throughout kindergarten. They will likely advance to different reading levels during the year.

While parents can read stories to children, independent reading helps them practice reading on their own and helps them become more proficient at decoding words. At home, parents can encourage children to read aloud; if they struggle to decode a word, parents can help them sound it out.

Daily reading practice can help children gain reading fluency and confidence.

How to Teach Reading in Kindergarten

Utilize Tools from the Classroom

In the classroom, children might use reading programs on the computer. Some teachers will send home username and passwords for these programs.

If children have access to these programs at home, parents can encourage them to use the programs. Not only are these tools another way to help children gain reading proficiency, but they also might be designed specifically to keep children engaged in the reading journey.

Take Children to the Library

Public libraries offer families (and individuals) free access to reading materials. If parents don’t have a library card at their public library, now is a great time to get a card. Children also could have their own library card.

Visits to the library allow children to explore all their book options. In addition, some libraries offer storytime events or other activities for free. During the summer, many public libraries host reading programs to encourage children to read during their long vacation. Some programs offer prizes to children when they hit specific reading goals.

Pay Attention to Book Levels

In kindergarten, teachers might send parents reading reports related to their child’s reading level and progress. Parents might want to watch for these reports, as they can help parents better understand the reading level that is best for their child.

If reports are not sent home, parents can reach out to their child’s teacher to inquire about their reading level. This helps parents ensure that they can find the best books for their child.

Books that are too advanced could frustrate children. When children are reading books independently, parents might want to pay attention to the reading level to ensure the book is the right level for their child.

Let Children Choose their Own Books

Some parents choose their child’s books. They might grab a book they think looks interesting and tell their child to read it. Reading is reading, right? Not all books encourage children to love reading, and assigning books to children at home might make them dread their daily reading.

Let children choose their books. Just because parents think a book sounds interesting or cute doesn’t mean a child feels the same way. Take them to the library and let them pick books at that level that they want to read. Letting a child choose their books empowers them to discover authors that they like and genres that interest them, too.

Use Reading Programs at Home

If a child is struggling to read in kindergarten, parents could use a reading program that’s designed with a lesson-based approach. These programs are designed to help children with different reading skills, and every program might offer different features.

Readability is designed to help children in kindergarten through fifth grade with all aspects of reading. Readability offers a built-in 24/7 AI reading tutor that guides lessons and helps children when they struggle.

With the program, children have access to a library of stories at their appropriate reading level. Stories are read aloud. The reading tutor is programmed with voice-recognition software and this allows it to learn the child’s voice; when a child struggles, the tutor knows that they need help.

Parents can set their child’s baseline reading level when using Readability, or they can let the program determine the best reading level. Parents also can follow their child’s progress by accessing a private portal that displays their child’s reading data.

How do parents know that Readability is the best choice for their child? They can explore the program for free by signing up for a free seven-day trial. Their child can work with the AI tutor and access a library of book titles. Sign up for a trial to help pave the way for a child’s reading journey.