BlogTeaching ResourcesHow to Teach Kids to Read: 9 Easy Tips

How to Teach Kids to Read: 9 Easy Tips

Parents and teachers want kids to be successful in life, and one of the most important things for a child’s future is literacy. Reading is the foundation for all learning, and kids should learn how to read as early as possible. Understanding how to teach kids to read effectively is crucial for their development. But teaching kids to read can be a daunting task – especially if you don’t know where to start.

Don’t worry, though! We’ve got you covered. This blog post will outline 9 best ways to teach kids to read.

Why is Reading Important?

Understanding the importance of reading is crucial in teaching kids how to read. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Reading to kids helps their brains grow strong, making it easier for them to learn in school.
  2. Stories open new worlds, encouraging kids to dream big and think creatively.
  3. Regular reading helps kids concentrate better and stay attentive longer, which is helpful for learning.

These points highlight why mastering reading is critical, emphasizing the need for effective strategies in teaching kids to read.

How to Teach Kids to Read: 9 Easy Tips

1. Start with Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. It’s a foundational skill in reading, linking spoken language to written text.

When to Start: Begin when your child shows curiosity about sounds in words, often noticeable around ages 3 to 4.

Key Milestones and Skills:

  • Initial Sound Recognition: Identifying the first sound in words, such as the /b/ in “ball”. This skill is crucial for early phonics learning.

Start teaching your child sound recognition with these activities:

  • Phoneme Segmentation: Breaking words into individual sounds, like /c/ /a/ /t/ for “cat.” This helps in developing spelling skills.
  • Phoneme Blending: Combining individual sounds to form words, such as blending /d/ /o/ /g/ to make “dog.” Essential for beginning reading.

To help your child master phoneme blending start with these games:

Related Reading: Best Phonemic Awareness Activities for Kids

2. Learning the Alphabet

This involves recognizing, naming, and forming alphabet letters and understanding the sounds associated with each letter.

When to Start: Ideal when children show interest in letters, typically around ages 3 to 4.

Key Milestones and Skills:

Begin with these letter recognition games:

Related Reading: Best Alphabet Learning Apps for Kids
  • Alphabet Sequence: Reciting the alphabet in order. This skill is often developed through alphabet songs and repetition, helping children memorize the order of the letters.

To help your child master the alphabet sequence, begin with these letter sequence games:

  • Letter Formation: The skill of writing or tracing letters accurately is an essential part of how to teach reading to kids. It involves developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as children learn to form letters.

Start with these letter tracing games:

Related Reading: Best Fine Motor Activities for Kids

3. Building Word Skills

Sight word on a sheet

This stage involves combining letters to form simple words, focusing on basic phonetic patterns and common sight words.

When to Start: Start as children begin kindergarten, around ages 5-6, showing readiness to combine letters into words.

Key Milestones and Skills:

  • CVC Word Formation (ages 5-6): The ability to create and read simple consonant-vowel-consonant words, such as ‘cat’, ‘bed’, and ‘dog’. This skill involves blending individual sounds to form complete words, a fundamental aspect of early reading.

To enhance your child’s ability to form and read CVC words, begin with these CVC Word Games:

Related Reading: What Are Double Consonant Words - Rules & Examples
  • Sight Word Recognition (ages 5-6): Recognizing and reading common sight words that often don’t follow regular phonetic rules, like ‘the’, ‘and’, and ‘you’. Mastery of sight words is one of the most important steps in how to teach your child to read which aids in reading fluency, as these words frequently appear in text.

To master sight word recognition start with these sight word games:

Related Reading: Best Sight Word Activities for Kids
  • Word Families (ages 5-6): Understanding and identifying word families, and groups of words that have a common feature or pattern, such as the ‘-at’ family (cat, hat, bat). This step in how to teach english reading to kids helps in developing decoding skills and recognizing word patterns.

Here are some fun word family games to develop an understanding of word families:

4. Advanced Phonics and Decoding

In the journey of how to teach a kid to read, phonics instruction plays a pivotal role. It teaches children the relationship between letters and sounds, enabling them to decode words effectively. This step is crucial for developing reading skills, as it helps children understand how letters combine to form words.

When to Start: Once children have a basic grasp of letter sounds, usually in kindergarten (ages 5-6).

Key Milestones and Skills:

  • Decoding Skills: Developing the ability to break down unfamiliar words into their constituent sounds and blend them to read accurately. This skill is crucial for reading fluency and comprehension, allowing children to confidently tackle new words.

Here is a fun worksheet to practice decoding:

  • Phonics Rules: Gaining an understanding of basic phonics rules, such as vowel sounds (long and short), consonant blends (like ‘bl’ or ‘st’), and digraphs (combinations of letters that form a single sound, like ‘ch’ or ‘th’). This knowledge enables children to decode words more efficiently.

To gain a solid understanding of basic phonics rules, start here:

Related Reading: How to Teach Phonics to Kids – A Step By Step Guide
  • Reading Simple Sentences: Applying phonics skills to read simple sentences. This milestone indicates that children are not just decoding words in isolation but are beginning to read and understand them in context, which is a significant step in the journey of how to teach a child to read:

To apply phonics skills in reading simple sentences, utilize these ELA worksheets:

5. Vocabulary Development

Comprehension skills involve understanding and interpreting what is read. It’s about reading the words and grasping their meaning and the ideas they convey.

When to Start: As children start reading and encountering new words, typically around ages 6-7.

Key Milestones and Skills:

  • New Word Acquisition: Regularly learning and incorporating new words into their vocabulary. This includes being introduced to words through reading, conversation, and educational activities. The ability to remember and use these new words appropriately is a key milestone.

Boost your child’s vocabulary with these word creation worksheets that are perfect for learning and using new words:

Related Reading: How to Improve Kids' Vocabulary
  • Understanding Word Meanings: Developing the skill to grasp the meaning of new words through context and discussion. This involves understanding definitions but also recognizing synonyms and antonyms to infer meanings.

If you are looking to enhance word comprehension, here are some worksheets focused on understanding word meanings, synonyms, and antonyms:

  • Using Words in Sentences: The ability to use newly acquired vocabulary in constructing their own sentences. This skill demonstrates not only memory but also the understanding of how words function in different grammatical structures.
Related Reading: How to Teach Sentence Structure to Kids: The Ultimate Guide
  • Word Context: Understanding how the meaning of words can change depending on the context. This skill is important for reading comprehension, as it allows children to understand nuances and subtleties in different texts and conversations.

Worksheets can be a great way to reinforce and practice word context, here are some worksheets that you can start with:

Related Reading: Best Vocabulary Activities for Kids: Word Wizards

6. Reading Fluency

Reading fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly, and with proper expression. Mastering this skill is a critical step in how to teach children to read, laying a strong foundation for reading comprehension. 

When to Start: Focus on this when children are more comfortable with decoding and vocabulary, around ages 7-8.

Key Milestones and Skills:

Smooth and Accurate Reading: Reading passages smoothly and accurately without frequent stops.

Appropriate Pacing: Developing the ability to read at a conversational pace.

Expressive Reading: Reading with expression, reflecting the tone and mood of the text.

Self-Correction: Recognizing and correcting mistakes while reading.

Kids learn to read best when they are allowed to practice and experiment independently. Encourage your child to read independently by setting aside time daily to read and provide various materials. Bedtime stories can be a great way to start practicing reading fluency.

7. Comprehension Skills

Comprehension skill is the ability to understand, analyze, and interpret the meaning of the text. This stage goes beyond just reading the words, focusing on grasping the underlying ideas, themes, and messages conveyed in the text.

When to Start: These skills are typically honed around ages 7 to 9. This is when children have a good grasp of reading basics and can start delving deeper into the meaning of texts.

Key Skills and Milestones:

  • Identifying Key Details: Recognizing main ideas and supporting details in a text.

Begin here to enhance your child’s ability to recognize the main ideas and supporting details in texts:

  • Inference Making: Drawing conclusions based on information provided and reasoning.

If you are looking to develop your child’s inference skills, here are some games that encourage drawing conclusions from texts, enhancing critical thinking and comprehension:

  • Summarizing: Condensing the main points of a text into a brief summary.

Boost your child’s summarizing skills with worksheets focused on condensing text into concise summaries, enhancing comprehension and retention:

Related Reading: Best Reading Comprehension Activities for Kids

8. Encourage Conversations

Regular conversation plays a crucial role in language development, serving as a foundational step on how to teach kids to read. 

How to do it:

  • Engage your child in conversations throughout the day. Discuss a wide range of topics, from what they did at school to stories you read together. 
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to think and express themselves. This helps build their vocabulary and understanding of language structures, which are crucial for reading comprehension.

Key Milestones:

  • You’ll notice your child’s vocabulary expanding and their sentences becoming more complex. 
  • They’ll start using new words they’ve learned and show an ability to express their thoughts more clearly. This indicates they’re applying their conversational skills to their reading.
Related Reading: Great Ice Breaker Questions for Kids to Share

9. Help Kids Understand What They Are Reading

After your child reads a passage, ask them to summarize what they’ve read in their own words. Discuss the characters, setting, and plot. Ask questions that require them to think beyond the text, like predicting what might happen next or explaining why a character acted a certain way. This helps deepen their comprehension and connect reading to real-life experiences.

Key Milestones: 

  • Your child begins to share insights about the stories they read without prompting, showing they understand the material. 
  • They can answer questions about the text and make predictions about story outcomes, indicating a good grasp of the content and its implications.

Monitor Kids’ Reading Progress

Keep a reading log or chart to track the books your child reads and note any new words or concepts they learn. Regularly sit with your child while they read, noting their fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. Celebrate their achievements, no matter how small, to keep them motivated.

How to know the progress of your child’s reading journey:

  • You will see a gradual increase in the number of words your child can read and understand. 
  • They’ll start to read more fluently, with less hesitation, and will be able to discuss the books they’ve read with greater depth. 
  • Their reading log will show a broader range of books and topics, indicating a growing interest and comprehension level.

Use SplashLearn to Keep Track of Your Child’s Reading Progress:

A Reader’s Journey: Simple Steps to Success

With these ten simple steps, you can help kid become a reader in no time! Reading is an essential life skill, and with the right tools and techniques, you can make sure your child masters it. Be sure to praise your students for their efforts and successes, and don’t forget to have fun while reading together!

Related Reading: Best Reading Websites For Kids

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When do you consider a child to be a reader?

There is no one answer to this question, as reading proficiency varies from child to child. However, a good rule of thumb is to consider a child to be a reader when they are able to read fluently and understand what they are reading.

How can phonological awareness help children become better readers?

Phonological awareness is hearing and identifying the individual sounds that makeup words. Teaching phonological awareness is an essential step in reading instruction. There are a variety of ways that teachers can help students learn about phonology. One way is to provide students with word cards. Another way is to use phonemic cueing.

What should I do if my students are struggling with reading?

If your students are struggling with reading, it is important to find out the root of the problem. One way to do this is by using a reading assessment. Once the problem has been identified, teachers can provide students with the appropriate interventions. In addition, it is important to monitor the child’s progress and ensure they are making adequate progress.

Is silent reading better for students than reading aloud?

Some students prefer silent reading, while others prefer reading aloud. It is important to allow students to choose the type of reading that works best for them. However, teachers need to provide both types of reading so that all students have the opportunity to experience both.

How can I teach kindergarten to read?

Start by introducing letters and sounds, then gradually move to simple words and sentences. Reading aloud daily is key.

What should I focus on when teaching how to read?

Emphasize phonics for decoding words, incorporate plenty of reading practice, and use engaging books to spark interest and comprehension.

How do I make teaching reading fun and effective?

Incorporate games, songs, and interactive reading activities focused on phonics and vocabulary to make the steps in teaching reading enjoyable and engaging.

How long does it take to teach a child to read?

The time it takes to teach a child to read varies, typically ranging from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the child’s age, learning abilities, and the teaching method used.

Ursula Cruz
Ursula Cruz writes on the subject of integration of technology in classrooms and the intersection of education and child development. In her free time, she likes going on hikes with her dog, Lucy.