How To Teach Kids To Read

It’s not always easy to encourage a beginning reader. Some students struggle at the start and get discouraged. Don’t worry, I’ve got some tips and tricks for early readers to get you started at home, plus a downloadable guide to keep you on track!

Is your primary student beginning to read? Hooray! 🎉

Reading is a fun, engaging activity that is great for students’ brain development. Not to mention it is a necessary skill to learn now so they can be successful as they move up in school. 


Why reading is important for students

Students need to learn to read while they are young. Reading is necessary for literally every school subject. Even maths requires reading comprehension skills to understand the directions or the meaning of a word problem! 📖

Reading is also a skill that is essential in the real world. Think about how many times a day you need to read as an adult. A recipe for cooking, instructions for assembling furniture, the contract when you buy a car...without the ability to read you would be lost!

This is a skill best learned young. By the end of primary, students should have a solid grasp of reading. It’s much harder to remediate when students are older. (But it’s not impossible! If your older child is struggling, these tips can help them too. A GoStudent tutor can also provide extra support! 👍🏽


What to read?

Digital learning has been a great help during the pandemic, and e-readers definitely have their place, but it turns out that paper books are better for brain development! 🧠 📚 So be sure to include mostly paper books in your child’s library. Some reading from a screen is okay here and there, but make it the exception rather than the rule.


Why should students read 20 minutes a day?


Does your child’s teacher want them to read 20 minutes per day for homework? What is the deal with that anyway? 🤔


⏲️ Reading for 20 minute a day promotes brain development. It also reinforces reading skills they learned in school and gives them an opportunity to open their mind to new ideas.

As with any skill a student is learning, consistent practice is so important! So make reading for 20 minutes a day a regular part of your routine.

It’s also a great independent learning activity! Often, students get sucked into a good book and read well beyond the 20 minute requirement.


How to get students to read at home

My number one tip for encouraging beginning readers actually has nothing to do with academics. 

No, really. The key to reading success? Your child should read books they enjoy!

Reading for pleasure is so important that even research shows that it’s the way to go. Help your child find the types of books they are interested in and encourage them to read those. When students feel forced to read something they don’t enjoy, they begin to associate reading with a negative feeling. We want them to love reading! 🥰

Talk about books with your child and encourage them to choose what they are interested in. Reading doesn’t only have to be books either - magazine, graphic novels, the back of the cereal box...it all counts!

Model being a reader as well. Let your child see you reading for pleasure!

How to help students learn to read

As students begin to learn reading, phonics is the best way. This is different from how some of us learned, but research shows it is the best method. 🔤


When you work on phonics, focus on the sound the letter makes.  Make sure you are saying the sound correctly - not the name of the letter. Check in with your child’s teacher to see where they are in the phonics progression. They will learn the letter sounds and then move on to sound combinations, such as “ch” or “igh.”


Students need to learn phonics to be able to decode the words they read. Some words cannot be decoded, however. These exception words don’t follow common spelling patterns, so students need to memorize them. They are often included in lists of high frequency words.


Check out the downloadable guide for some strategies to use if your child comes across a word they don’t know while reading! 


How to improve students’ reading comprehension (and test scores!)

Reading comprehension skills are needed in all areas of the curriculum! It’s not enough to read the words on a page - students need to understand the meaning. This is especially true when they begin taking standardized tests. 


It’s important to remember that reading is thinking. Check the guide for some comprehension strategies you can use with your child at home!


Another important piece of reading comprehension is making sure the student isn’t reading something that is too hard for them. If they aren’t able to read all the words, they will miss the meaning for sure! 


I encourage my students to do the 5 Finger Test ✋ (instructions in the guide!) to make sure they have picked a book that is “just right.”


Download Guide


Does your child need extra help learning to read?


Sometimes a little one-on-one support is needed to help a beginning reader. GoStudent tutors provide individualized lessons and can help your child continue their reading progress. Try a free trial lesson and see for yourself! 🚀