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Reading strategies to improve reading skills


How to teach reading

Reading strategies for children


As a special education teacher, I was often asked by parents how to teach reading. I have been teaching for a long time and over the years have developed many reading strategies that I believe effectively teach reading skills to children.

The best time to start teaching children to read is from birth.  Infants begin learning even before they are born. Then children are born into a world filled with language and sounds. Right from the beginning, expose your child to the joy of language. Speak, sing and read to your infant from day one. Children that are exposed to a language rich environment find learning to read and write easier.

Reading to children

Reading to your child regularly is the best predictor for children obtaining successful reading skills. Read to your child every day, right from day one. After a lot of exposure to literature children gain a good understanding of print. Pointing to the words as you read, teaches your child how to track the words and provides an understanding that the text flows from left to right and from top to bottom.

Children always have favourite books. They will want them read over and over again. Use this enthusiasm and read those books repeatedly until your child knows the book by rote. Once your child can memorise the text get them to begin to read the book to you. Encourage them to say the words slowly while you point to the text. Then read the story together, in unison. Once you have done this with sentences, your child will gain confidence and they can move onto reading pages independently and then whole books.

Teach Sight Words

Another valuable method that I have found useful is to teach sight words before children start reading books. Sight words are words used most commonly in everyday reading, writing, and conversation. Sight words can be taught to children in fun word game activities, play sight word games until your child can recognise the words instantly.

Then introduce those sight words in short sight word phrases. The advantage of using sight word phrases is that it puts the sight words into context and allows you to construct simple stories for your child to read. Having stories they can read independently builds their confidence. Children that are confident readers enjoy the experience and are motivated to read more.

Teach phonograms

Another strategy I believe is good is to introduce phonograms or family words. There are 38 most common phonograms and they make up over 500 words. Phonograms are a useful tool for teaching reading as they teach letter clusters. Family words are rhymes that children can use to create their own songs or nursery rhymes. 

Shared reading

I also recommend that you participate in shared reading experiences with your child for at least 20 minutes every day. Choose books that your child enjoys and also books that is appropriate for their reading level. Try using the five word rule. Open to a page and start reading. Count the challenging words.

One challenging word: Easy!
Two to three challenging words: Perfect!
Four to five challenging words: Too difficult

Try and find books that have 95% of known words. This will make learning to read a successful and enjoyable experience.

Teaching reading strategies - summary

In summary, there are many ways to teach reading. Reading to children every day, teaching sight words, introducing commonly used phonograms and shared reading experiences will defiantly help your child be a more successful reader. 

...Next - Improve reading by focussing on children's interests 

Great book

 Teach your child to read - get the book

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"Thanks Jen for your 'Teach children to read' book, it was exactly what I was looking for - a fun, interactive and play based program. It provided an easy to follow guide that made sense!" 

 Greta, AUS


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