Reading skills are an essential part of your child’s development and academic achievement, but you may be wondering how to improve your child's reading skills.
Strong reading skills will help to set your child up for success in several ways:
- Your child will widen their vocabulary – developing both language skills and a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of words.
- Reading helps your kids to learn across all subjects.
- Reading and telling stories to children improves their logic, judgment, and understanding of the effects that cause certain results.
- Reading can help your child concentrate and develop a longer attention span.
Reading with your child can have huge benefits, it increases your child's general knowledge; they learn about the world around them, everyday life and how to read and write.
Children Reading Skills Explained
Reading skills are the ability to:
- read quickly,
- comprehend what they are reading,
- predict what will happen next and
- generate an opinion on the material read
When children start to learn to read, the focus is on the letters and the sounds that each letter makes. They then begin to learn how to join these words to read sentences, then paragraphs and ultimately books. Whilst some children may enjoy reading more than others, children do not automatically have reading skills. Reading skills need to be taught and will improve over time the more they practice.
Teaching your child to read is just the start, though; reading comprehension is the ultimate goal.
Tips for How to Improve Children's Reading Skills
Tip 1 – Read with your child every day
Taking time to read with your child every day is essential to improving your child’s reading skills. Pick exciting and fun books for your child; this will make it more enjoyable for them. Let them choose what book they want to read together at bedtime or during a quiet time in the morning. Make sure you take turns reading too!
Tip 2 – Teach letters and their corresponding sounds
One way to improve your child’s reading skills is to teach them the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds. Teaching this skill will help kids learn, recognize, and identify different words with ease.
Start by introducing one letter at a time; each time, give examples of words that start with that letter. For example, when teaching the letter ‘H', tell your child a word that begins with an H such as “humming”, “hand”, or even “hamster”.
This exercise will help children learn letters and their corresponding sounds before introducing whole words to them. Knowing the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sound is known as phonics. Phonics is the most basic reading skill that your child should master before being taught other skills such as comprehension.
Keen to discover How to Teach Your Child to Read Using Phonics?
Tip 3 – Approach reading with positivity.
When your child first starts to learn to read, provide lots of encouragement. Learning to read is a tremendous skill for your child. Although it can be a little frustrating sitting there as your child tries to sound out each word, encourage them with positivity as this will help your child enjoy reading.
You could offer your child a small reward such as a reward sticker for tackling new words and reading new books.
Give praise every time the child reads or attempts to read a word correctly, no matter how long it takes for them to sound out the word. The more positive you are, the more your little one will start to enjoy reading.
Tip 4 – Give them Books that are appropriate for their age level.
When giving your child books, provide them with books that are at their age-appropriate level. If the book is too difficult, your child can lose confidence, and if they are too easy, your child will not be challenged and feel as though they are not making progress.
Tip 5 – Make reading fun.
If your child is having fun while reading, this will help them to stay engaged. Try reading aloud using silly voices, different voices, accents and sound effects to make it more fun!
You can also check out our post, 10 Great Ways to Encourage your Child to Read, for more ideas on how to make reading fun.
Tip 6 – Encourage your child to tell their own stories.
Although your child is not reading, another way to help children improve their reading skills is by encouraging them to tell their own stories. Storytelling helps your child develop their creative skills and have some fun. The more your child can see the ‘magic' of stories, they are more likely to have fun and engage with reading.
Take turns telling stories, make them silly, make them fun, create suspense, and you will see how your child becomes enthralled and engrossed in the story. If your child is old enough, you can also get them to write about their story, which helps build comprehension skills.
Tip 7 – Model fluent, expressive reading
Children are excellent mimics. As you read with your child, use different voices for different characters and use expressive body language. Hearing different tones and expressions helps your child understand the other emotions and feelings expressed in a story.
Use humour when possible while reading aloud; this will make the story more enjoyable for both you and your child.
Tip 8 – Don’t reserve reading just for books
A great way to encourage reading and improve children’s reading skills is by encouraging your child to read words in everyday activities. There are many opportunities to read words, not in books, such as signs, menus, labels of products, games etc.
Tip 9 – Let your child help choose the books they will be reading.
Letting your child choose the book they are reading is a great way to help them feel ownership over their reading and give them a sense of pride. Selecting a book to read allows them the opportunity to choose something they are interested in reading.
Some children love fiction whilst others love non-fiction. If your child wants to select a cartoon style book, let them, these can be great for teaching your child to read with expression.
You may also find that your child likes to read the same book over and over. Re-reading the same book is okay as this will help improve their fluency. However, ensure that you also introduce new books to increase your child's vocabulary.
Tip 10 – Create a storybook together.
Creating a storybook together is a great way to have some fun while improving your child’s reading skills. Illustrate and write the book together; this can then be a special book that you read together. One of the key ways to improve children's reading skills is to make reading fun. The more fun you can have with books and reading, the better for your child.
Tip 11 – Review what you have read.
When you are reading together, stop after each sentence of text in a book, then have your child tell you about that part or describe it with words not found on the page (context clues) before continuing. As your child's comprehension skills improve, review after each page and then finally review at the end of the book. Read here to find out more about How To Improve Children’s Reading Comprehension.
Related Activity: Reading Comprehension Grade 1
Tip 12 – Stay involved in your child’s reading education.
It’s never too early to get involved with your child's reading education. Spending time together reading their school readers will provide you with the opportunity to know what level your child is reading at and to track their progress.
If you are concerned about your child's reading, it is best to address this with their teacher. Discussing any concerns you may have about your child's reading will allow you and their teacher to work together on a plan to improve your child's reading skills.
Tip 13 – Develop a library habit.
The library is a great place to read new books, find some old favourites, and meet friends. Try to take your child to the library each week. Many libraries have group storytimes which are great to encourage young readers. Helping your child develop a love of books and reading will encourage them to read independently and not see reading as a chore.
Tip 14 – Use aids that help with reading.
Reading for children is an important habit that will help them with their future, so it’s a good idea to find reading aids to support them.
Many different tools can make learning easier and faster. One of these is phonics books or videos, as they teach kids how letters map out sounds when making words.
This Reading Mama has some fantastic reading resources, games and activities to help you improve your child’s reading skills.
Tip 15 – Remember that every child is different
When it comes to reading, remember that every child is different. Some will pick up reading quickly, while others may take a little more time. Some children love reading whilst others are more reluctant readers. Continue to spend time reading together, have fun reading and provide constant encouragement and praise.
If you are concerned about your child’s reading skills, consider purchasing a reading program. You can read our review of the Children Learning Reading Program here.
The program teaches toddlers and small children (2-7 years old) to read effectively. Your child will benefit from this program even if they can already read, as it will improve their fluency and increase their confidence.
The program is also suitable for older children struggling to read or have difficulty learning to read helping them to overcome these difficulties and read proficiently.
Reading is a skill that will help your child throughout their life. With support and encouragement from you, they can develop good reading skills, which will make them more competent, stronger readers for the rest of their lives. With time and patience, your child will soon be able to read better and enjoy it more.