Simple Ways to Build Reading Skills at Home
As a parent, you want your child to love to read! You want to make the best choices and raise them to be the best version of themselves. However, it is hard to know where to start. Reading must be learned, so let’s give our children the advantage we want them to have with these simple ways to build reading skills at home.
First, reading has a few components. Reading can be broken up into vocabulary, phonics, fluency, and comprehension. With our little ones at home, parents can absolutely work on comprehension skills, build vocabulary, and model fluency. When kids are ready, phonics practice comes into play, too.
To begin, sometimes we take for granted that our kids just know what we are saying. Yes, most likely they are getting the gist of what you are saying, but know this. If you use a word they have never heard before, it is as simple as asking them if they know what it means before defining it for them. Children learn language from parents as you have probably seen when your mini-me has used an expression or phrase you consistently use! This becomes essential to reading because vocabulary can impede comprehension and fluency.
Easy ways to ensure vocabulary growth:
- If you are listening to music, or watching a television show, stop and talk about words you hear. Make it a game. Children are innate learners. They love to play. Let them listen to the world and bring back to you words they heard and make them memorable and they will learn them!
- Another way to simply build vocabulary is through cooking with children! Cooking or baking is an amazing way to introduce vocabulary that may not come up in other parts of your day. You are also reading from a cookbook, looking at ratios, and proportions, and following a sequence for a recipe. Have conversations about what happens if you don’t follow the correct order and how sequence is important! These are all great ways to build reading comprehension skills as well.
- Other simple ways to build vocabulary and word recognition are going over the calendar and the weather each day. Writing the words out for sunny and cloudy also allows children to begin understanding letters have sound relationships! Then get outside and enjoy the sunshine or jump in the puddles!
There are a gazillion toys out there that say letters and look like letters, but most children aren’t going to learn their letters from an electronic toy repeating it to them. These aren’t true educational toys.
Activities to learn letter recognition and phonics:
- Sing the ABCs. Let children hear the letters of the alphabet.
- Allow children to play with magnetic letters. Put them in a sensory box and let them match them to a list.
- Start having them trace the letters with a crayon or pencil and learn their names in print. If they don’t quite have the grip for a writing utensil, practice, but start by tracing with their finger.
- Flashcards work well, but most importantly, remember children have to learn letter sound relationships to learn to read. Knowing the alphabet and playing with letters is exceptional, but allowing them to also play with sounds is really a precursor to reading.
- Underline the words as you read aloud to your child. This helps them build the connection between words and sounds.
- Use chalk and make it a game. Write letters and have them find where you wrote them!
Before we know how to read, we learn what it should sound like. Fluency is all about how clearly a story is read and the flow of what you are hearing. This is why we love nursery rhymes and music! When reading, inflection and emphasis are of uber importance. When you read to your children, give the characters voices! Make the words dance for your children. Our children’s spectacular minds are absorbing this everyday.
Simple tips to make sure children are exposed to reading fluency during their playtime during the day:
- Have books available in play areas.
- Make a game with books. Take a few favorites and hide them. The first book found is the one they read for story time!
- Have siblings read aloud too.
- Listen to audiobooks. (A great, easy tool to build reading skills).
- Encourage children to be storytellers and listen to the way they tell their story! This could be done through drawing pictures too.
- Make story time a priority each day!
Finally, as adult readers, we often focus only on our understanding of what we have read. The other parts really do matter because without them it is more difficult to be a well-rounded reader. Of course, comprehension is where children understand the story, learn a lesson, make connections, and think about the character’s actions, so definitely important, and can absolutely be done without knowing how to read on their own.
There are some really simple tricks to help with comprehension at home even before children are reading on their own.
- Model your thinking. When reading to kids, comment how you really love how the characters solved the problem or how you have been in similar situations. Meta-cognition is so important when it comes to sharing with your kids how you process and think through reading.
- Ask your children if they liked the character, the setting, and what they would do if they were in the book.
- Allow them to pick books they can connect with. If you are reading a farm book after being at a farm, encourage the children to connect the book with the farm they visited.
- When kids are playing pretend, watch them use the same scenarios that come up in the books! Asking thoughtful questions can ensure comprehension.
- Look at pictures! Beginner readers actually use the pictures to help them understand. After reading a book, children can draw a picture of their favorite part.
- If you are watching a movie or television show, ask them to tell you what happened. That is simply summarizing and an easy way to encourage that skill to be developed for reading readiness.
- Compare books by the same author. Kids often love the same types of books and this is a great opportunity to think a little deeper.
- Ask open ended questions. It could be as simple as what would you do if you were in that situation?
Build Reading Skills with Play Time
Our children’s ability to read becomes a priority in every parent’s life. We hate to see our children struggle. Use some of these simple ways to build reading skills at home while they play to prepare children to be thinkers and make the process of learning to read a little more seamless!