Reading is one of the most important skills you can teach a child. If children can't read well, they will not be able to succeed in school and will find everyday life difficult. Teaching kids to read is a long process, often taking a year or two, but it can be a fun activity that will build a strong relationship between parents and children, or teachers and students, and benefit kids for a lifetime.


Read to your kids. Reading aloud to children gives them a love for reading and motivation to learn to read for themselves. Start when they are babies, and read from a wide variety of children's picture books and nonfiction books. Young children especially love books about animals. Through hearing books read aloud, kids will learn vocabulary, focused attention and the rhythm and cadence of speech. When kids are about 3 or 4 years old, begin to point to the words as you read them, or take the child's finger and help her to point to the words. Don't let this exercise interrupt the speed or flow of the story, or it may frustrate the child.

Teach the letters by the phonetic sounds they make. It is not necessary to teach the names of the letters until the child has begun to read, and it may confuse the child at this point. First teach the short vowel sounds for the letters a, e, i, o, and u, and then teach the long vowel sounds. Teach the consonant sounds. Provide plenty of practice with this stage, and do not move on until the child knows the letters well. Use flashcards, computer games, drills and copying the letters to reinforce the letter sounds.

Help the child to sound out simple, two- and three-letter words that are written in large print. At this stage, consider buying a book to help further the program along. "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons," by Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, and Elaine Bruner, is a very helpful book that will take your child through all the steps to reading fluently. The "Bob" books, by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R. Maslen, are a series of short, simple readers that give children a fun way to practice sounding out words. When the child can sound out simple words, move to progressively more difficult and longer words.

Teach kids to recognize common words through drills, worksheets, copy work and flashcards. Many English words don't follow phonetic rules, making them difficult to sound out. These words must be memorized by the way they look, and they are part of a group of commonly occurring words known as sight words. Teach children the sight words from the list found through the resources section below; there are free worksheets you can print out to use as well.

Help your kids practice reading on a daily basis. Keep the practice sessions short and fun. A great way to accomplish this is to read a book with your student. Let him read the words he has learned, while you read the more difficult words. Have patience if the child forgets words he knew last week or even an hour ago---a very common occurrence with early readers. Quickly tell him the word and move on. The more practice kids get with reading, the more quickly they will become skilled readers.


Never belittle a child for mistakes or cause one to doubt his abilities. Reading, like other subjects, should be taught with love and patience.

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