Tips for Parents

How Do Children Learn to Read?

By Susan Magsamen, SVP Early Learning

I want my preschooler to become a strong reader. She knows her ABCs so I think we’re on the right track. Any suggestions?

You're off to a good start! Learning the ABCs is one of many building blocks of reading. Reading is a complex skill that begins to develop at birth and usually comes to fruition in the early elementary school years. No two children are on the same schedule for learning to read. Providing the opportunity to develop reading skills is critical, and fun. Here are suggestions for nurturing your child to become a happy, healthy reader.

Show How Language is Around Us All the Time

Point out familiar words to your child such as “exit” or “thank you,” words commonly found around town, and explain their meaning. Excursions to the grocery store present a wonderful opportunity to connect words to objects, nurturing your child’s understanding that words are symbols for real objects.

Show How Words Work

Play a matching game with your child such as picture/word bingo. This will help your child understand that the letters in words must be written in the same order to carry meaning.

Engage in Dialogic Reading

Dialogic reading is a technique where the adult becomes a listener, questioner, and audience for the child so that reading time becomes highly interactive. For example, as you read use who, what, where, why prompts such as, “Who is in the barn? What color is the caterpillar?” Also, use open-ended prompts such as, “Why is the boy happy? What is happening in this picture?” “What do you think might happen next?” Ask your child to relate the story to experiences in his or her own life, helping to build a bridge between books and the real world, while also building vocabulary and fluency. When reading a rhyme, leave a blank at the end of the rhyme and have your child fill it in. Dialogic reading is a proven method for making reading time more valuable for your child.

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