You want the best start for your child. Frederick Douglass is quoted as saying, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” How true. Reading can bring so many possibilities. You can learn new things or travel to faraway places. Here are some tips for raising an early reader.
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Not all children will learn at the same pace or the same time. Don’t force your child to learn to read if they aren’t ready. They will let you know. It might be 4 years old, but it could be 7 or even 10 years old before they are truly ready. Forcing them will just cause frustration for both of you.
That being said, here are some of the best things you can do to help your child become an early reader, giving them a head start on school and in life:
There’s no age that is too young to start trying to raise an early reader. As soon as your child arrives you can start introducing them to reading both by reading to them, as well as through the use of brightly colored flash cards which have the letters of the alphabet on them.
Alphabet blocks are a must. You can teach the sounds each letter makes. You can teach the shape each letter has. Use the blocks as you read to show certain words or sounds.
Board books allow children to get their hands on books at an early age. The books are durable and don’t tear easily, making them a good choice for young learners.
Rhyming books and poems with rhythm are great starters. Kids enjoy the repetition. Think of the Mother Goose tales. These are classics that can be easily memorized. Dr. Seuss books are also a great choice.
Read to Them
Although you’ve probably heard it a thousand times, it’s important that you understand what an impact reading to your child will have on them becoming an early reader. A child who is read to at least once a day is twice as likely to become an early reader as those who are read to less frequently.
It’s also a good idea to teach your child how to follow along with the words by placing your finger under each word as you read it. However, when doing this, it’s important that you take the time to sound out each word as you read; otherwise, your child may learn to read by memorization only.
Ask questions as you go along to make sure your child is comprehending what is being read. Comprehension is import too. You can learn to read, but if you can’t remember what you’ve just read, it won’t be helpful. It’s better to read slowly and know the material than to try to rush it.
Another important thing to remember if you want to raise an early reader is to be consistent. Reading to your child once in a while, or sounding out words on an infrequent basis won’t give them the foundation they need to become early readers. You absolutely must maintain a consistent reading schedule with your child if you want them to learn young.
And be prepared to read the book more than once. Kids like to hear stories over and over. This allows them to hear the same words more than once, which will help with their vocabulary.
Make It Fun
Above all else, if you want to raise an early reader, make sure your child has fun. A child who is forced to read, or forced to read things they don’t find interesting will rebel against the learning process.
Choose books that are interesting to your child, and even let him or her be a part of the choosing process. Make the reading process fun by showing them how much you enjoy it, and remember not to be too demanding that they learn.
Have you heard of Dolch sight words? These are words that don’t follow the normal sounding conventions and need to be memorized. I have created a set of printable flashcards for Pre-K, K, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, as well as the nouns. You can get them for FREE in my store.
Overall, raising an early reader isn’t nearly as difficult as many people would have you believe. Keep in mind the fact that reading is supposed to be an enjoyable process, and make it a special time between you and your child. You’ll find that raising your child to be an early reader is easier than you ever thought possible!
Your local library is a great resource. They have a plethora of books, including recent releases. Kids read so many books so quickly, you don’t want to have to buy everything.
Children learn in different ways, so there isn’t an exact way to teach reading. There are plenty of books available to help with the process.
We used the book, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with my three boys. Each learned at a different pace. My oldest was not quite 4 years old when he started. The twins were almost 5, and one of them didn’t want to start at the same time as the other. He showed no interest, so I didn’t push him. But within two weeks, he was ready.
Some of my boys’ favorites when they were younger:
Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection (includes Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, and Fox in Socks)