read better

5 Things You Can Do to Help Your Child Read Better

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I go to church with the cutest little boy. He has a happy round face, sandy blonde hair, and a mischievous grin. I could tell he was a bright child, and I was surprised that at age 7, he was having trouble learning to read. His mother later told me why he wasn’t catching on. “I looked over at him one day,” she said, “and he was holding his book upside down. It dawned on me… he couldn’t see!

Sure enough, once he got glasses he learned to read in no time. Almost 40 percent of children have a hard time learning to read. Whatever the reason your child is struggling, there are 5 things you can do to help your child read better.

1. Phonics and Phonemics.

You’ve probably heard of phonics, but phonemics might be a new concept to you. If you are trying to help your child read, teach her the letter names and their sounds; that’s phonics. Then there’s phonemics. That means you break a word down into sounds. For example, the word dog gets broken down into “duh”-“aw”- “guh.” This enables a child to hear all of the sounds within words so she can sound out words more easily. 

2. Rhyming.

Rhyming is something you can do to improve your child’s phonemics awareness. Say a word and have your child try to come up with a rhyming word.

3. Have a set time.

Ideally, reading should be sprinkled throughout your day. Your child can read a recipe to you while you’re cooking. Let her read the directions to a craft. Have her look up words in a dictionary as unfamiliar words come up in conversation. Point out street signs or billboards and have her read them to you. Beyond that, have a set reading time every day. You can make bedtime reading time. Read to your child or, if he can read on his own, read to him first then let him read aloud to you. When you do read to your child, run your finger underneath the words as you read. If he’s old enough, let him follow along with his finger.

Make it your goal for your child to read every day.

If bedtime isn’t a good time for reading, let your child read to you in the car, at breakfast, or when he gets home from school. Make it your goal for your child to read every day. You can also have D.E.A.R. night — drop everything and read. Gather books your child loves, or find new books and spend the evening reading together. If your child can read on his own, make reading as a family an event. Make popcorn, have special treats, cozy blankets, or read under the stars.

4. Write.

Writing makes better readers. Make up little quizzes and have your child write her answers. It can be as simple as favorite color, favorite food, favorite movie, etc. If your child wants more screen time, work out a trade. Say, “Okay, write three paragraphs on the place you’d most like to visit, and then you can play on your computer.”

Have your child write on a piece of paper rather than on the computer. Writing by hand has great benefits. Grab some post-it notes and ask your child to write encouraging words to his mom or his siblings. Dictate a letter to him.

5. Read.

How often do your children see you reading? If you do most of your reading on the computer, choose something besides social media and show them what you’re reading. If you’re not a big reader, check out newspaper sites online and let your child sit with you. Visit the library or bookstore and choose books for you and your child. Let him see you reading.

You can find great deals on books at thrift stores and garage sales. Studies show that the number of books in the home is linked to academic performance. So think about it this way, every book you add to your collection — even if your child doesn’t read it — increases their academic ability.

And if you have a toddler, here are some reading ideas just for them.

Now it’s your turn. How do you help your children read better?

Huddle up with your kid and ask, “When would you like to read together today?”