Reading is one of the main academic focus areas in the primary grades. Children must have a solid foundation in reading skills at an early age to read more complex books later and be proficient in their understanding of them. Reading is essential in any school subject, as textbooks and other written media are used to convey the majority of information being taught. Reinforce reading skills at home and help your child develop a love of reading by giving your child a rich language learning environment.


Phonics is a method of reading that focuses on the sounds of the letters of the alphabet. Primary students often learn the sounds and names of the letters at the same time. Once children understand that each letter is associated with specific sounds, they are ready to learn how to decode (sound out) words. When helping your child with phonological skills, emphasize initial sounds first. Then you can introduce small CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, like "cat" and "wet." The goal of phonics is to give children the ability to isolate each sound in a word and then blend the sounds together to make the word.


Reading fluency is the ability to read with expression and accuracy at an appropriate rate. Fluent reading is apparent when a child has phonological awareness, knows how to pause at punctuation and reads smoothly. Reading to your child frequently provides him with a model of fluency to emulate when he begins reading independently. Increased comprehension is a benefit of reading fluently. When your child can read without having to spend a lot of time sounding out words, he will have an easier time understanding what he's read.

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Word Recognition

Primary students also need to learn to recognize words that cannot be pronounced phonetically. These "sight words" are used frequently in print, and your child will encounter them in every book he reads. Your child will receive a list of these words in school, but they are also readily available online. Reviewing these words at home will help your child memorize them, which will also help his reading fluency. Examples of sight words are "my," "are" and "said."


Reading comprehension encompasses several skills. Basically, comprehension is achieved when the reader understands what he's read. Teachers use several methods to help students comprehend texts. In the primary grades, these methods include having the children predict, question and summarize what they've read. You can reinforce these skills every time you read to your child or have her read to you. Ask her to make a prediction about the story before reading. Pause and ask questions about the characters and the plot during the reading. Finally, get her to retell the story in her own words after reading. Proficiency in these skills will help your child understand the story and be able to comprehend books later as she reads independently.

About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.