Most children learn to read by second grade. By that level, they should be able to fluently and accurately read and comprehend grade-level text. Second graders with appropriate reading skills are able to decode one-syllable words with long and short vowels and read high frequency vowel teams such as boat and tear. They also decode two-syllable words with long vowels and words with common prefixes and suffixes. Children who haven't developed the skills to decode words struggle with reading. Helping children overcome the struggles associated with decoding will pave their way for a lifetime of reading.
Reading aloud to a child gives her opportunities to hear words, building her vocabulary. Hearing words helps her to recognize the words when she comes to them, or even words in the same word pattern, in her independent reading activities. Reading aloud also involves letting the child hear a fluent reader. Hearing how words are supposed to sound helps the reader imitate when it is her turn to read. Reading a story also involves talking about themes, characters, conflicts and plot. Ask the child questions about the story as you read. "Why did everyone go to the ball except poor Cinderella?"
Poetry, Chants and Songs
Reading short predictable text is a good way to help a child with her fluency. The rhymes and repeated words in poetry, chants and songs help her become familiar with a portion of the words as she comes across them in her reading. For example, "Hey, diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle."
Add word work by decoding words -- breaking apart words by their sounds. Use letter stamps, tiles with letters printed on them or foam letters to decode words in a word pattern being focused on. Say a word to the child and ask her to create the word with the stamps or tiles by listening to each sound. Do this activity in reverse. Say the sounds in chunks to the child -- "ch - i - p." Let her repeat the word. Doing these word work activities will help her become a better reader.
Make Reading a Priority
Have a lot of reading materials available for the child and try to find a genre that interests her. Present all of the genres to her -- mysteries, fantasy books, realistic fiction or expository text -- trying to find what she most enjoys to read. Let her see the family read everyday. Reading the newspaper, recipes or magazines lets the child know that reading is an important part of everyday life.