7 Essential Tips To Get Your Child Reading

by Melissa on June 28, 2010

I taught two kids how to read this year. It was hard. There were some days when I wasn’t sure if it would happen. We tried and practiced sight words and did picture walks.

And then, two weeks ago, I was filled with elation when I realized that it had actually happened.

When you teach 3rd grade and up for a couple of years, it’s easy to forget what a rush that is . . . the first time a student is really reading, and the child looks up at you in wonder, and both of your eyes are wide because you realize it at the same moment that it’s finally here! There’s the joy, the feeling of being utterly lost in the moment. Pure excitement.

When I first started teaching, I thought that it happened in a flash, that one moment they weren’t reading and the next moment they were. Poof! Now, years after working with kids and reading everything I could get my hands on about the subject, I know the progression. I know what comes before the magical moment. I know how to do the work. If you have an emergent reader, here are some things that you can do to help your child come closer to “miracle time.”

  • Label things. In your house, label chairs and mirrors, and write notes. Write your schedule out and draw a quick picture next to it.
  • Make sure you have books around the house that are highly predictable. Dr. Seuss and Robert Munsch are two authors that are able to do this in a highly engaging way.
  • Write down the stories your child has, and read them aloud as your child sits next to you, so they can see how the written word correlates to the story.
  • Encourage them to do dramatic play when reading. When they chime in when you’re reading Caps for Sale or Brown Bear, Brown Bear.
  • Have them make up stories that go along with the pictures before you read the text.
  • Read aloud to them from books that are higher than their level. Show them how much joy you get from these experiences. Talk about those books. Reading is thinking. This is the most important advice I can give. When you teach children that talking about books is important, it sets the stage for their actual reading. They’ll know what to anticipate, how to use picture clues.
  • I don’t know about you, but when it happens, when I teach someone something new, I have this flash, where I imagine the future (and it’s so vivid), and I picture all of the times this person will be able to use this skill I taught them in their lives.

I know this is supposed to be a website that gives tips for parents, but I want to make a request. Please comment, and share one story about an experience you had teaching someone something. It’s been a tough week, buddies. This stuff feeds me. And, I suspect that it feeds some of you, too. Maybe the comments are where we’ll find our best tips this Monday.

Melissa is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.


Jim June 29, 2010 at 11:38 pm

These are great tips! I especially like the one about “encouraging them to do dramatic play.”

Melissa July 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Thanks, Jim! That one is particularly enjoyable for the adult AND the child!