How to help your kids learn to read

To me the process of a child learning to read, as a parent, is both amazing and down right torturous.  It is amazing seeing the development and progress sometimes on a daily basis as they connect the dots and work out the code of the English language, but hearing them read is often torturous at the start as you tend to feel like there is no progress and the books are just deathly dull – Chip, Biff and Kipper and their blasted magic key regularly send me over the edge.

Hearing them read when they are struggling

At the beginning almost all children seem to find it hard to make the connection between the sounds they have learnt.  Both my sons could identify and say all their sounds fairly quickly and so could sound out the words in the books, but they could not blend them together.  That was more of a struggle and still remains a struggle for my younger son.  He can do it, but is lacking in confidence that he can do it and so tends to shut down whenever he gets something wrong.  He also gets very frustrated and frankly so do I.  I try so hard to cover up that it is frustrating when you have literally just read ‘dad’ and then on the following page he looks at it blankly as if this is totally new.  I am sure he can feel me tense up even though I am outwardly smiling and being encouraging.  It felt like we were not getting anywhere and that I was not helping and so I sought advice from his teacher and having tried some of the things she suggested over the past week the whole process of hearing them read has become less of a battle ground.   He is more willing to come and try and that must be a positive thing.

hearing them read

Teacher suggestions

  • Little and often works best – she suggested we go back a step and try to read every night, but maybe only a couple of pages
  • Cover the pictures – this may be specific to my son, but he looks at the pictures and just guesses the words so that he doesn’t have to sound them out.  I don’t keep the pictures covered the whole time, but I do cover them and check that he was actually reading
  • Help more –  I was trying to encourage him to sound out all of the words, but his teacher advised that I could read most the sentence say and get him to sound out and blend just a couple of words so that he starts to build that confidence and from there we can expand
  • Let him practice combining sounds to make words –  we have all the sounds cut out and laminated and he can then move them around on the table to spell out words.  He can spell whatever he likes so he enjoys this as he gets to make words like bum and poo!

Other ways I have tried to help

I have definitely found his teacher’s advice helpful.  It has made hearing them read easier as I am not forcing him to read loads every night and so stressing him and me out.  We just do a little bit everyday and so he can focus more easily and I then don’t get irritated because he is rolling about and moaning about having to read.  He is still struggling, but he is improving and he is happier doing it.  All I want is for him to be happy so that works for me.  I have also tried a few other things which have worked for us:

  • We don’t always read the book in order as he has a great memory so learns the sentences pretty quickly and knows what is coming next.  That doesn’t really help him to progress and crack the code so although we do read the whole story I also pick out a random page and just choose a couple of words for him to read before moving onto another page.  This helps to check that he is actually reading.
  • As I said at the start the reading books are not very exciting and so I also read him other books which he will find more interesting in the hopes that I will a) begin to foster a love for reading b) learn some other words
  • When I am reading him other books if I come across a word I think he will know or be able to sound out I ask him to do it so that I can continue to build that confidence
  • We use the Reading with Phonics app which is great for getting him to have fun whilst learning.  He loves an electronic device so is very happy to use this.

Hearing them read as they get older

I know that hearing them read is very important and so although I have a lot going on (and so do they) we do read together every day even with my 7 year old who can read really well.  He sometimes resists as he just wants to go off and read his Famous Five book by himself, but I do always get him to at least read some aloud to me so that I can check he actually gets what he is reading.   I also try to read some to him as well as it is tough when you are learning to get the intonation right so I want him to hear how I would read it.  It is also just a special bit of time together and when you have 4 littles they crave that 1:1 attention.  I am only one of two, but still some of my fondest memories of my childhood are my father reading the Famous Five to us and doing all the characters voices.

Pre Schoolers

My two preschoolers just love books so reading to them is a daily occurrence. In fact right now they are fighting over a book despite the fact we have loads.   They have a list of favourites which we read all the time and we also regularly go to story time at our local play centre where fab actresses read the stories in a much better and more exciting way than I can.

If you have any tips for helping little learn to read or for making hearing them read be enjoyable for them and you then I would really love to hear them.


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43 thoughts on “How to help your kids learn to read

  1. What a lovely thing to do together. Not only are you helping them with a valuable life skill you are sPending quality time together. #DREAMteam
  2. So agree little but often is the best way great tips thanks for hosting #dreamteam
    1. And so say all of us! #DreamTeam
  3. Brilliant post! I am massive on kids reading and supporting them. great tips and advice
    1. Thanks Claire. As ever it is great to have you with us on the #DreamTeam
  4. Some Great tips here. Thank you for posting as this is all good to know
  5. Some great tips and always talk to your teacher, my son learnt to read in a different way to other children but we got there. and do not look at other children and where they are xx #dreamteam
    1. That is so true. I never look at the others in his class it is all about his progress. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  6. Great Post, its so important to help our kids read, i really believe the more they read, the more iNtelligent they become.
    1. Thanks so much for being on the #DreamTeam
  7. Great tips! For us, flash cards also helped a lot and repetition. Even though it seemed like she was just memorizing words at first, it eventually led to making the connection of the sounds to the letters. :) #DreamTeam
    1. I was thinking word flash cards. We have the sounds, but maybe the words would be better. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  8. Our school uses jolly phonics, so we like learning the songs with him. Definitely will try random pages, as I do think The Biggest has also learnt what comes next with his favourite books. #dreamream
    1. I haven't used Jolly Phonics. I will look it up. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam
  9. Thanks for sharing, I love reading and am getting my little boy to enjoy books too, but like you, I find his books form nursery such a bore! it has gotten much better now that I'm more relaxed and less focused on his progress and just let him enjoy the read.#DreamTeam
    1. The problem I find is that he hates the books and is bored so doesn't want to read them. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam
  10. Loved this post! I think one of the best things we can do to teach our children (and grandchildren) to read is to read to them. That's what got all of my kids started.
    1. Thanks Laurie #DreamTeam
  11. Great Post, this has great tips. I don't have any kiddos yet, but I will be saving this for later.
    1. Thanks for being with us on the #DreamTeam this week
  12. Will help so many parents. My first son was not great at reading but his Montessori nursery teacher took so much time with him and I will always be grateful for her input - a really good start on the road to loving learning. #DreamTeam
    1. That sounds like priceless help. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  13. As a teacher of first grade I can not say enough to get your kids reading young. As soon as they can hold a book. The love of learning starts young. #dreamteam
    1. Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam
  14. My mum always had me one Janet and John book ahead of the class. She bought them to Make sure I didn't drop behind. Being ahead GAVE me coincidence.
    1. Janet and John - that takes me back. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam
  15. SOme really sound advice, it can be so hard in the BEGINNING to have the patience, I agree with the little and often so that way they don't feel OVERWHELMED and the parents do not become impatient either. Reading to mine from as early as possible and them seeing my love of books I believe really helped them too. #DreamTeam
    1. Totally agree. Thanks so much for joining the #DreamTeam
  16. Fab tips and so important to encourage little ones to READ X #dreamteam
    1. Couldn't agree more. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  17. Hi, its so important that we encourage children to read and enjoy it at the same time great tips #DreamTeam
    1. Couldn't agree more. Thanks for joining us on the #DreamTeam
  18. my daughter just started school last month so the prospect of her learning to read is just around the corner. These are great tips as I'm really not sure what approach to take with her. Thank you! #DREAMTEAM
    1. Hope it helps when she is learning. Thanks for being with us on the #DreamTeam
  19. I have to admit that with my oldest she just took to it like a duck to water - we Didn't really have to do ANYTHING. Not sure it will be the Same with number 2 & number 3 though! #DreamTeam
    1. It definitely depends on the kid. My eldest was fine, but my younger son is finding it so hard and then behind him come his little sisters who are already recognising their sounds and are 3. I don't feel like i have been doing anything different.... THanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  20. I love hearing my little one read :-) These are fab tips and I totally agree that in the early days little and often seems to work much better than trying to get through the whole thing. Also having back up reading books at home (at the right level). The school books we get are pretty good, but after a week of reading the same thing, it can get a bit boring. Thanks for being a super host on the #dreateam xx
    1. I am totally on the look out for books at home that might inspire my little one to get his read on! #DreamTeam
  21. I was fortunate the learn to read easily and I love the hobby so much! #DreamTeam
  22. Some great advice here . I will never forget that frustration of them finally mastering a word but then forgetting it the next minute. So amazing though when they finally do crack it !! #dreamteam
    1. It really is amazing to see them learn. Thanks so much for being on the #DreamTeam
  23. Some great tips there - the one about covering the pictures makes so much sense, I noticed mine learned the words off by heart and could say them just by looking at the picture. I guess the best is just to be patient and enthusiastic when they try and read to you. Sorry about the late comment on last week's #dreamteam!
    1. The covering the picture has really made a difference. Thanks so much for joining the #DreamTeam

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