Helping Your Child Learn to Read: 10 Simple Activities That Can Be Done Daily with Your Pre-reader

  1. Read. Yes, it’s really that simple. Reading daily to your children can help them academically and socially. It will help them become better readers, build their speech and language skills, expand their vocabulary, strengthen their listening skills, help them with grammar and correct sentence structure, build their attention spans, develop their imaginations and curiosity, teach them positive behaviors for dealing with various life situations, and give them positive attention that they crave. Reading to your children can start as early as birth (or even when your child is in utero).
  2. Teach the ABC Song. Kids love song and rhyme. You can begin teaching them the ABC song as soon as they learn to talk. This is a good foundation for learning letters.
  3. ABC Hunt.  Practice teaching letters by having your child find various letters (Can you find a B, an H, an O?). He or she can look for letters on signs, advertisements, in books, magazines, restaurant menus, etc. This is a good way to pass time in the car or while waiting somewhere. Once your child can recognize all the letters by name (and not in order), have them recognize the letters by sound (Can you find the letter that makes the “B” sound?)
  4. Ask Letter/Sound Questions. What sound does __ make? What letter makes the “ _” sound? Mix it up so that your child has a solid letter/sound foundation. For letters with more than one sound, use the dominant sound first until they know it well, then introduce the secondary sound. For vowel sounds, the sound they should learn first is the short sound.
  5. Practice Identifying Initial Sounds. What words start with the “__” sound? What sound starts the word “_____”? Once kids know their letter sounds, they can start recognizing words that begin with these sounds. Identifying the initial sound is the first step in decoding an unknown word.
  6. Practice Rhymes. Songs, books, and games are all great ways to practice rhyming words. Practicing end rhymes helps kids learn word families and recognize familiar word parts, which can help with decoding later on. Kids first learn to hear end rhymes; then they learn to identify them in words.
  7. Identify Sight Words. Pointing to words while you read can help your child start to learn common sight words. Learning sight words is a great way to help your child learn to read because over 50% of all words in text material are commonly repeated words. To get a list of the most common sight words, do a computer search for Fry or Dolch sight words. Libraries, bookstores and teacher stores also have beginning reader books which help kids learn and practice sight words.
  8. Reread Familiar Books. Repetition of books is a great way to build word recognition, fluency, comprehension, and a love of reading. When your child has a favorite book, let him or her read it over and over again. As he or she reads the book, point to the words being read. This helps your child learn the words by sight. Eventually, your child’s reading won’t just be memorization.
  9. Tell Stories. Telling stories builds creativity, helps with comprehension, and is a building block for both reading and writing. As your child tells stories, encourage him or her to provide details such as who the characters are, where it takes place, what the problem is, the events, and the solution. You can ask questions about your child’s story to help him or her build in these details. You can write your child’s stories down and have him or her draw the pictures, or just let your child have fun telling the stories and being as imaginative as possible. Inspiration for stories can come from your child’s day, an event in his/her life, picture books, favorite shows or movies, or anything that brings out your child’s creativity.
  10. Ask Questions About the Books You Read. Asking your child questions about the books you read together helps build reading comprehension. Kids are first drawn to books for the pictures and the language (the rhymes, repetition, and silly words or phrases). As they get older, and their books get longer, kids begin to learn that books tell stories. They start identifying with the characters and situations. Books become tools from which kids learn and grow academically, socially and emotionally. Asking your kids questions about the characters, settings, events, situations, and problems/solutions, will help them understand and relate to what they are reading and gain meaning from text, which is key for reading comprehension.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mama-press
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 16:27:59

    Great tips! My son is in kindergarten and reading at a 2nd grade level. We’ve always read to him, he knew his abc’s at a very young age (18 mo). The work we did as parents helped tune is innate skills with regards to reading, and it shows a few years later. It’s never too young to read to kids…and btw, bath letters really helped my son learn his abc’s…so learning doesn’t have to come from a book, per se. 🙂


  2. Petra
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 20:46:39

    Thanks for the feedback! It’s good to hear that these tips have worked for others as well. My daughter has been reading from an early age too so I know they’ve worked for us! She is not quite 4 1/2 and is reading at a 1st grade level. She will likely be at a 2nd grade level by KDG as well. I am wondering, how does your school differentiate for your son? I am worried about next year because I don’t want my daughter being bored in KDG. I know she won’t be the only one coming in reading, but I just hope that the teachers differentiate for the kids who do know how to read. The standard KDG curriculum is letters/letter sounds and basic sight words for reading. She has known all those for awhile. Oh, and I’ve heard from others that the bathtub letters worked for their kids as well. Good tip! For us, an ABC puzzle and doing letter hunts worked well.


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