teach your child
Learning to read is one of the most fundamental skills our children will learn in the first few years of their life. As a parent teaching your child to read is one of the most important skills you can teach the and help them with. Like any other skill not all children flourish to learn it easily and sometimes extra work needs to be done to help them be able to achieve it.

My children are a great example of this. My first born, Miss M is a brilliant reader and learnt so quickly I was sure I had a little genius on my hand. At just over 2 she could pick up a book and sound out most of the words with little to no help from me. However, my second child Miss R did not take to reading as easily. We had to work hard to help her sound out words she had seen multiple times before and we had to teach her in a completely different way to how we taught our first child.

Knowing that the ability to read is such an important lifelong skill that will benefit them for years to come I knew we had to really persist in getting her to a good level of reading so that she wouldn’t fall behind when she got to school.

So like any good modern day parent I hit the internet and searched for ways to help my daughter to read and while we tried every single tip I could find I wanted to share with you the things that worked really well for us.

A parent’s top 5 tips to teach your child to read.

Learn letters.

It sounds quite simple and that is because it is! What I found with my second daughter was that she could recite the alphabet very easily but really struggled to identify the letters when they were not in order. For example, if I just picked up the letter L and showed it to her, she would want to say A purely because it was the first letter of the alphabet.

So, we had a couple of different alphabet charts we would sit and point to and recite the alphabet with her. By incorporating the look of the letter with the sounds she started to get it a bit easier. However, it was not until we incorporated my next 2 tips that this really accelerated.

Identify letters and words in natural settings.

Miss R is not one of those kids who thrives in a setting where she is ‘forced’ to learn. Instead, she learns more using everyday life lessons and incorporating lessons into everyday tasks. So, for example when learning to count she learn far better when we would count how many buttons we were doing up on her shirt or how many roses was on our rose bush.

So, we ended up doing the same for letters. Every time we went to the shops or to a restaurant I would point to a sign or to the menu and ask what letter that is. I assume because she perceived it as more of a game then a lesson it was more fun for her and she started to really understand letters and eventually even words. One of the first words she read by herself was the word chips on a menu (Definitely my child!).

Use sensory play to learn to read.

Just as we would make reading signs at shops and words on a menu fun, we also purposefully made games and crafts that would help teach her how to identify and read words. So instead of just reading books and writing on paper I would use sensory play to help read. This helped her remember the letters she was learning just like when adults need to remember what they read they might highlight or underline something as the motor movement helps them to remember.

We did so many fun activities to teach her to read like using sand to write letters in and then rub away when she got them write, to picking a word cutting out the letters and then decorating them with things from the craft box. We even wrote a sentence in the front lawn with twigs, sticks and leaves that Daddy got to read when he got home.

These sorts of activities made reading fun and not something you have to sit still and concentrate for.

Take turns reading.

When she was skilled enough to be able to read some books, she lost interest in the books quite quickly. So we came up with an agreement that we would read a page and then she would read a page. My husband was the main person who did this with her as his theatrical reading skills are much more entertaining than mine and he would keep her quite entertained while she then tried to copy him on her turn.

This became such a nice daddy daughter time and really gave her confidence as well as install a sense that reading is fun and exciting.

Let them pick new books at the shops.

Once Miss R was a bit older, we made a habit of getting new books at least once a month. We joined the local library and would browse the shelves until she found something that she thought she would like. This turned out much better than me just picking the books as she chose so many I never would have even thought to get her and some of them are now our absolute favorites.

By giving her freedom in choosing what she wanted to read I think it made her more excited to read every night as she had chosen the story.

Now I am not an expert in child development or about how to teach your child to read and there are some incredible resources out there on child development and reading that will definitely help you. All I can give is my tips as a real-life mum and the things we did to help our daughter learn to read. Years later I can tell you that I now have 2 bookworm daughters who read just as much as I do – a lot!