Many children struggle with reading, especially when they’re at home and teachers are far away. In fact, even before the recent pandemic, 65% of America’s fourth graders weren’t reading at a proficient level, according to The Literacy Project Foundation.
Reading is important because reading is fundamental to academic and career success. Books can also add more joy and meaning to life.
Fortunately, there are many things a parent can do at home to help build literacy skills.
Help your child stay on track with their education and language development while they’re at home. Consider these tips for teaching reading skills and creating an environment that will encourage a lifelong love for books.
Parent Strategies for Helping Younger Children to Read
Most experts believe that teaching phonics to young children is essential for fluency and reading comprehension.
Try these tips to provide your kids with a strong foundation for reading:
1. Talk together. Speaking and singing to your child boosts their brain power and vocabulary. You can start while they’re still a baby.
2. Emphasize letters and sounds. Play games that teach alphabet letters and sounds. Keep in mind that your child’s attention span is limited, so keep your lessons brief and repeat the same material often.
3. Label things. Kids love stickers, so put them on objects around the house like furniture and toys. Practice looking at the names of things and saying them together.
4. Draw pictures. Drawing involves some of the same brain activity as reading. Give your child crayons and paper to help them express their thoughts about things you discuss and read together.
5. Start writing. Many children can write their name or their first initial by the time they’re 3 years old. You can also ask them to dictate a letter to you and go over it to see which letters they recognize.
6. Take advantage of your library. Check out the children’s events and materials at your local library. Enjoy what’s available online if you’re waiting for them to reopen.
7. Read out loud. Make story time part of your daily schedule. Ask your child questions about the characters and plot to stimulate their thinking.
Parent Strategies for Helping Older Children to Read
Some studies have found that kids read for fun less and less as they grow older. How can you help your tweens and teens to appreciate literature when they’re attached to their smartphones?
Consider these ideas:
1. Offer choices. Let your child pick what kind of material they want to read. Graphic novels may trigger their interest in the original classic works.
2. Build a nook. Provide a comfortable and attractive place to read. Put a bookshelf full of interesting titles under a window seat. Create a home library in one corner of your living room or finished basement.
3. Watch movies. When it’s your turn to choose the movie, pick a film that’s based on a book. It also helps to maintain sensible limits on screen time to encourage reading and other offline activities.
4. Be a role model. Your kids are more likely to read if they see you enjoying books and magazines. Make reading for pleasure part of each day and talk about what you learned.
5. Seek professional help. If you’re concerned about your child’s reading proficiency, talk with their teacher and doctor. They may need help with a learning disability, or they may benefit from additional resources such as tutoring or more intensive instruction.
You can enrich your child’s life by fostering a love for books. Start early with teaching language skills and helping your child to see themselves as a reader. As a parent, you can help them to learn and grow even when they’re stuck at home.