6 Great Strategies for Teaching Reading to Children

6 Great Strategies for Teaching Reading to Children

The strategies for teaching reading in this post highlights positive ways to support a child’s reading development, including reading in a less pressurised environment, praising children when they succeed, and also their efforts.

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Teaching Reading in Positive Ways

Teaching reading in positive ways is crucial to a child’s reading development, especially for struggling readers. A relaxed reading experience reverses feelings of pressure and negative associations. If a book is too hard, a child will become frustrated, reducing their desire to read.

Reinforce and praise child as they read, and especially in their efforts when trying to read. The risk of making an error is problematic for many children. Using these strategies for teaching reading helps them read unknown words rather than being worried about reading perfectly every time.

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6 Strategies for Teaching Reading at Home

When reading with your child a parent’s role is to positively support them. A relaxed reading experience reverses feelings of pressure and negative associations. If a book is too hard, your child will become frustrated reducing their desire to read.

Structured reading at school involves assessments and teaching formal strategies. If parents can make reading at home relaxed and positive this gives the teacher more time to teach reading.

Reinforce and praise your child when they succeed, and in their efforts when trying to read. The risk of making an error is problematic for many children. Support them in using strategies for teaching reading to help them (see below) rather than reading perfectly every time.

What follows are six different ways you can positively support your child’s reading progression.

1. Using the Illustrations

Before beginning a new book with your child, give them time to look through all the pictures. Illustrations provide clues that help them put the text into the correct context. When they come to a word they don’t know, the pictures might be just the clue they need to read more complex words.

Illustration of a witch flying on a broom with a cat and an owl over a river landscape during a rainstorm.
Click on the image for Room on the Broom activity ideas and questions

2. Predicting Unknown Words

Inconsistent phonic rules in English make it hard to sound out every word. As books get harder children can’t rely on memorising words, making it seems like their reading has plateaued.

Predicting longer words may seem like they are guessing, but they are actually using multiple reading strategies. This includes looking carefully at the illustrations, saying the initial sound and determining if their guess makes sense. These tactics will help your child make a sensible guess. With practice, they will use these strategies without your help.

Be careful about them sounding out every letter, particularly of long words. Sometimes it is better to tell them the word and move on.

Take a look at these great picture books with descriptive vocabulary and wonderful illustrations.

Illustration of diverse people sitting and standing in a bus, engaging in conversation, including a boy asking about a guide dog.
Click on the image for Last Stop on Market Street activity ideas and questions

3. Teaching Reading with Prompts and ... Waiting

Expect and encourage your child to do the work when reading. WAIT for them to respond to what they are trying to read. This is hard to do, but it may take your child that much time to process the print on the page.

Using prompts helps children focus on an unknown word. Two basic prompts are 

  • ‘Try that again’ and,
  • ‘Does that make sense?’ 

If your child still cannot read the word, simply say it and let them read on. The story flow is more important than for every word to be read correctly. Do not correct every error, especially if the child’s substitutions make sense to the story. More on this in the next section.

4. Self-Monitoring and Self-Correction

Self-monitoring is when a reader notices their own reading errors. Self-correction is the ability to go back and fix those errors. Both strategies show a child’s awareness of their own reading.

Many young readers struggle to notice reading errors because of a lack of comprehension. Or, if they do notice they may keep reading despite the mistake. If they substitute a word that makes sense let them continue reading to see if they notice the error. If they don’t stop at an appropriate place and ask them to review the sentence.

Try these strategies to help your child monitor and correct reading errors.

  • “You said ________. Does that make sense?”
  • “You said ________ which makes sense. But does it look right?”

Provide specific praise when they practice self-correction. For example:

  • “I liked how you noticed baseball didn’t make sense and you went back and tried again. The word basketball made more sense.”
  • “I liked how you figured out that ‘c’ makes an ‘s’ sound in the word price and you fixed it by yourself.”
Illustration of a desert scene with a large cactus and two characters, one resembling a tortoise and the other a rock with eyes, under a starry sky, exchanging dialogue.
Click on the image for We Found a Hat activity ideas and questions

5. Check for Understanding

Children show comprehension by responding to what they have read in ways that make sense. Encourage comprehension by expecting your child to respond to what they have read through discussing and questioning. Done consistently means it becomes an expectation and your child will read for meaning to be prepared.

Here are some ideas (find more questions here):

  • Discuss their favourite part of the story.
  • Re-tell the story again in their own words.
  • Ask them if they have ever felt like (character‘s name) and see if their answer makes sense.
  • What is the character’s goal/mission? How did they achieve their goal?
  • Why did the character make this choice? Could they have made a better choice?

What if your child has trouble remembering events in the story or their answers are out of context? Start them off and ask, “What happened next?” Or revisit pages in the book to trigger responses. And keep practising!

6. Sight Words

Sight words are common, frequently used words (You can find word lists here). Sight words used with other reading strategies increase speed, fluency and accuracy.

There are thousands of sight word games on the internet. Check some of them out on Pinterest. Remember to always write them with lowercase letters except where a capital letter is appropriate.

In Summary

…relax and enjoy reading with your child. Their progress in reading depends on their enjoyment. If reading becomes a chore or an opportunity to fail, rather than succeed, it will affect your child’s reading development.

If reading isn’t fun, we aren’t doing it correctly! Have a positive influence throughout your child’s reading journey.

Let me know in the comment section if you have used any of the tips successfully when reading with your child. If you have any other strategies, please share them!

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