Chances are if you’re reading this article, you’re desperate for some effective hacks to teach your child to read. And you’re not alone!
Teaching your kids to read can be super frustrating – not just for you, but for your child. It can be enough to make you cry (no shame if you’ve shed some tears in the process!).
For one thing, language can be hard to master as a reader, even if speaking it poses no problem. Take English for example. I don’t know who decided that homonyms and homophones should be a thing, but they genuinely made it hard to explain to kids the difference between “read” and “read”, “red” and “read”, or “there”, their”, and “they’re”. And don’t even get me started on how weird it is that some letters are pronounced differently depending on the word or whether there are two of them together (I’m looking at you “o”!)
But language isn’t even the only issue. Getting your child to even WANT to learn how to read (or to now outright hate it) can be a struggle as well. Some kids don’t seem to have the patience for books at all. And even ones who love HEARING a good story may completely lose interest when it comes time for them to do the reading.
Teaching Your Kids to Read
But there’s hope! I see stories all the time of people whose kids go from not wanting to pick up a book to being unable to put them down. Or, at least being able to read — which is a big deal in and of itself. Below, I’m going to share some simple hacks for teaching your kids to read that I hope will make things go more smoothly.
Read together daily
Ok, so this one is probably going to seem really obvious, but I have to mention it because it may be so obvious people overlook its importance. When it comes to language (whether written or spoken) the one thing that helps more than anything is immersion. That’s why language immersion programs and experiences are so popular when it comes to learning a new language.
Take time each day to read with your kids. Not just TO them, but WITH them. Let them see the words. Use your finger to follow along with the text as you read aloud. Or let your kids run their fingers along the words as you read them. This will give them numerous opportunities to connect the words they see on the page with the words they hear coming from your mouth.
Another way to make reading part of their daily life is to label things in their environment. You can do this with pencil, paper, and tape or get fancy with a label maker. Label all of the things they see throughout the day. Put signs on the doors of each room so they know what the rooms are called. Put it on their bed, their chair, their toybox, the TV, their dresser, their toiletries, and anything else that they will have to engage with on a regular basis.
Turn on Subtitles
If your kids spend time watching TV or videos, turn the subtitles on and leave them on. Then, be sure to explain to them what the words are. Even if they aren’t actively paying attention to the written dialogue, you might be surprised by what sinks in subconsciously. Plus, there’s been research that shows that when kids watch videos or TV with subtitles, there’s an improvement in reading speed, fluency, vocabulary acquisition, vocabulary knowledge, word recognition, reading comprehension, and oral reading. As a bonus, it can help parents feel less guilty about giving their kids screen time.
“With every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find that fun and…snap! The job’s a game.”
This piece of wisdom from Mary Poppins is one I think we can all learn from. When applied to learning to read, there are so many different options.
You can find fun ways to make reading a game for your family. For example, you can turn your favorite card games into reading games. Grab some index cards, write pairs of sight words on them, shuffle them, lay them out into even rows and then take turns picking two cards at a time, looking for the matching words. Boom! You’ve just turned Memory into a fun vocabulary game. Or you can take those same cards, shuffle them up, deal out 5 cards to each player, put the rest in a draw pile and then play Go Fish.
You can also find a ton of fun games to buy that encourage literacy skills. Sequence, Boggle, Scrabble, Apples to Apples, What’s Gnu, and Bananagrams are just a few that are really fun for the whole family. Some of them even have junio versions for the littles!
Another way to gamify learning to read is to participate in (or recreate) programs like the summer reading program at your local library or the Book It program at Pizza Hut. Fun prizes can be a great way to give kids an extra incentive to learn to read.
Give them a reading buddy
Does your child love stuffed animals and dolls? More specifically, do they love doing things with them — like feeding them, bathing with them, and playing games with them? If so, take them to the store and let them pick out a reading buddy. Tell them that this particular new friend absolutely LOVES being read to. You might be surprised how this can motivate kids to practice skills that they may not have been as concerned with before.
I hope that this helps you brainstorm some fun hacks for teaching your kids to read and more importantly, enjoying the process.
If you’re looking for a great curriculum that is proven and effective in teaching your kids to read, then be sure to check out our new reading curriculum. We brought on a certified teacher to help build this curriculum. This is the same proven technique that she used in her classroom and now you can use this in your own home!
This curriculum will take your child from learning phonic sounds to reading full sentences. It is both fun and engaging and past customers agree that this is hands down the most fun they’ve had teaching reading to their children. That’s a tall order to fill and we’re so happy so many are seeing success with this program! You can learn more about the reading program here!
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