Learn to Read—It's the Road to Success

When children learn to read in early grades, they are more likely to become better learners throughout their school years and beyond. So says the National Institute for Literacy, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the U.S. Department of Education. Children may find it hard to learn to read, the report states, but fortunately helpful research is available. Now every child can to learn to read. Here is some more valuable information:

Learn to Read by Developing Important Skills

  • using language in conversation

  • listening and responding to stories read aloud

  • recognizing and naming the letters of the alphabet

  • listening to the sounds of spoken language

  • connecting sounds to letters to figure out the "code" of reading

  • reading often so that recognizing words becomes easy and automatic

  • learning and using new words

  • understanding what is read

Teaching a Child to Learn to Read—A Teacher/Parent Partnership

When you learn to read, the process happens in stages. Preschool and kindergarten teachers set the stage for your child to learn to read with some critical early skills. First, second, and third grade teachers then take up the task of building reading skills that children will use throughout their lives. As a parent, you can help your child learn to read by:

  • understanding what teachers are teaching about reading

  • asking questions about your child's progress

  • practicing reading with your child.

What You Should Know if Your Child is Just Beginning to Learn to Read

At school, teachers should be...

  • Teaching the sounds of language. The teacher is helping children learn to read by putting sounds together to make words and to break words into their separate sounds.

  • Teaching the letters of the alphabet. The teacher should be aiding a student to learn to read by their being able to recognize letter names and shapes.

  • Helping children learn and use new words. The teacher is assisting children to learn to read by using new vocabulary words.

  • Reading to children every day. The teacher is helping pupils learn to read by personally reading to children (and having the children read) with expression and talking to them about what they are reading.

  • Systematically teaching phonics. The teacher should be aiding young readers to learn to read by demonstrating how sounds and letters are related.

  • Giving children the opportunity to practice the letter-sound relationships. The teacher is assisting students to learn to read by having them practice sounds and letters through reading easy books that use words with the letter-sound relationships.

  • Helping children write the letter-sound relationships. The teacher is helping pupils learn to read byusing the letter-sound relationships in words, sentences, messages, and their own stories.

  • Showing children ways to think about and understand what they are reading. The teacher is aiding children to learn to read by asking questions to show them how to think about the meaning of what they read.

At home, you should help by...

  • Practicing the sounds of language. Help your child learn to read by reading books with rhymes, short poems, and songs. Play simple word games: How many words can you make up that sound like the word “bat”?

  • Helping your child take spoken words apart and put them together. Assist your child to learn to read by separating the sounds in words, listening for beginning and ending sounds, and putting separate sounds together.

  • Practicing the alphabet by pointing out letters wherever you see them and by reading alphabet books. Aid your child to learn to read by making the alphabet come alive in your home.

  • Pointing out the letter-sound relationships. Help your youngster learn to read by practicing letter-sound relationships with household items—labels, boxes, newspapers, magazines and signs.

  • Listening to your child read words and books from school. Help your young reader learn to read by being patient and listening as your child practices. Let your child know you are proud that he/she is learning to read.

What if Your Child is Already Reading?

At school, teachers should be...

  • Continuing to teach letter-sound relationships for children who need more practice. To become good spellers as well as readers, the teacher should be helping students learn to read with ongoing instruction in letter-sound relationships

  • Teaching the meaning of words. The teacher is aiding her pupils to learn to read byteaching word meanings, especially words that are important to understanding a book.

  • Teaching ways to learn the meaning of new words. The teacher is assisting children to learn to read by using a dictionary to learn word meanings, how to use known words and word parts to figure out other words, and how to get clues about a word from the rest of the sentence.

  • Helping children understand what they are reading. The teacher is helping students learn to read by teaching them to think as they read. Teachers check children’s understanding. When children are having difficulty, teachers show them ways to figure out the meaning of what they are reading.

At home, you should help by...

  • Rereading familiar books. Help your child learn to read by practicing reading comfortably and with expression using books he knows.

  • Building reading accuracy. Aid your young reader to learn to read by reading aloud. This allows you to point out words he missed and help him read words correctly. If you stop to focus on a word, have your child reread the whole sentence to be sure he understands the meaning.

  • Building reading comprehension. Assist your youngster to learn to read by talking with your child about what he is reading. Ask about new words. Talk about what happened in a story. Ask about the characters, places, and events that took place. Ask what new information he has learned from the book. Encourage him to read on his own.

The National Institute for Literacy, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the U.S. Department of Education end their article with this suggestion: Make reading a part of every day. You can help your child learn to read by:

  • sharing conversations with your child over meal times and other times you are together. Children learn words more easily when they hear them spoken often. Introduce new and interesting words at every opportunity.

  • reading together every day. Spend time talking about stories, pictures, and words.

  • being your child's best advocate. Keep informed about your child's progress in reading and ask the teacher about ways you can help.

  • being a reader and a writer. Children learn habits from the people around them.

  • visiting the library often. Story times, computers, homework help, and other exciting activities await the entire family.

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