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
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
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
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
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.
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