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How can I help my child learn to read?

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As parents and caregivers, one of the most important things you can do for your child is to help them get an early start on learning to read. When children learn to read at an early age, they gain greater general knowledge and expand their vocabulary to help become more fluent readers. Studies also show that when a child becomes an early reader, it helps them improve their attention span and concentration skills and allows them to actually understand exactly what they are reading.


However, reading can be a challenge for many children. In fact, nearly 40 percent of children have difficulty in learning to read. The good news is that there are easy ways parents and caregivers can help a child learn to read with the following practical tips:


ABCs: When a child learns to recognize the letters of the alphabet, it helps boost their reading readiness. Experts say that when a child can recognize alphabet letters at an early age, it lays an important foundation for learning to read and write. So, practice the alphabet song with your kids and point to the letters as you go along.


Reading: When a parent or caregiver reads to a child, it helps the child understand the connection between books, words and pictures. Take the time to point to a picture when it connects to a certain word or phrase and explain the connection to the child. Also, be sure and ask the child questions about the story. Through reading, parents and caregivers can help a child understand the connection between the words on the page and what they hear.


Talking to children about books and stories: After reading a book or story to a child, an adult should take the time to talk to the child about the story that was just read. As a child learns to speak, he or she also learns how to listen, and by asking your child questions, he or she can expand their comprehension and listening skills. The child will also begin to understand that words are strung together to make sense along with the patterns of language and how different language is used for different purposes like giving directions, explaining and entertaining. Doing so can help the child develop their own vocabulary and make the connection between words on a page and what they just heard.


Reading and Writing: When a child sees the relationship between writing and reading, it’s another way to build reading skills. Start by helping your child learn to write their name or write a simple note to friends and family members. Also have your child copy favorite words or the names of pets or relatives to help him or her develop understanding and skills in writing that transfer to reading.


Labeling: Another simple way to build a reading foundation is to label things in the home such as a table, refrigerator, doors, etc. Collect the labels and have your child put them back on the correct objects.


Word play: Playtime can be a good time to promote reading skills by having a child make an art project out of his or her name or one of their favorite words. It will help promote reading skills in a fun way.


Reading on the go: Another fun way to promote reading skills is while you and your child are in the car, while walking, or riding the bus. Point to signs and ask your child to read what they see. Or if it’s a new sign, read what the sign says and ask your child to repeat the word.


Questions: Talk to children about what they like to do—their favorite games, pastimes, and books and encourage your child to ask questions. And be sure and tell them that most of the time, the answers are readily available in a book.


Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for ABC Quality approved child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.


By ABC Quality Team on April 28, 2020