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What are some ways to help your child improve their reading and writing skills?


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September 15, 2008 10:40AM


Children whose parents (or any significant adults) read to them are always better students than those who are not read to. Reading to your child exposes him/her to vocabulary, sentence structure, communication skills, and logic. Reading to them shares the joy of reading and storytelling. Reading to them also gives you quality time together, which strengthens your child-parent bond.

2. Encourage your child to read

Provide plenty of reading material that will interest your child - either buy books or take them to the library every few days. If your child is interested in dinosaurs, have books about dinosaurs in the house - both science or nonfiction books and fiction or storybooks, because reading is not just for fun, but also for information. Find out what your child's interests are, and provide books that feed those interests.

3. Help your child

If your child is having trouble reading, first make sure they do not have some sort of correctable problem like poor eyesight. Work with the school to test for learning disabilities like dyslexia, which can cause poor reading skills. Help your child learn vocabulary and spelling so that they can read better - you can either have regular Q&A sessions where you quiz them on vocabulary and spelling words, or you can make games like "Word of the Day" where you find fun ways to teach them new vocabulary words.

4. Set a regular time for schoolwork each day

This will also help with any school subject. Make a special place for them to do their work, someplace where they will not be distracted by TV, games, cellphones, computer chat rooms or IMs, or anything else. Have at least one hour daily (some children will need longer) during which homework is done - if they say they do not have homework, then they will use the time to read over their material. During this time, you can "assign" reading and writing practice also - have them read a section, then quiz them to be sure they understand what they have read. You can show them how to read for information, how to tell when a term is important in a textbook, and where to look for definitions and more help.

5. Make reading and writing fun

Again, if you use your child's interests, you will have more luck with this. Encourage your child to make up stories and write them down. Don't worry about spelling or grammar at first - just get them to start writing! Read what they have written if they want you to, and talk about their stories over the dinner table, or in the car. The more you encourage them to read and write, the more they will want to - notice I said "encourage" and not nag. The trick is to make it fun for them.

More input from other Wiki Contributors

  • there are lots of children's learning to read books you can purchase. firstly buy a book that your child can read with slight difficulty and once you help them master the words in that book buy the next book up to that one and do the same again and so on.
  • The best way to help a child learn to enjoy reading is to read with them! Helping them work up to more difficult books is a good way; you can also help by "quizzing" them on what they have read. "What do you think that means?" and "Why do you think that character did that?" are great ways to let you see how well they are understanding what they have read. You can also ask thought-provoking questions like "What do you think the characters are going to do now?" and "What do you think you would say to that character if you met them?" You can "quiz" your child on vocabulary words, or choose a new word to learn every day (remember to use that word as much as you can during that day) - there are even "Word-A-Day" calendars that you can buy! You can encourage your child to read more by choosing books on a topic that is really interesting to him or her - ask a librarian or bookstore employee to help you find lots of books about any subject!
  • The best way to help children read better is to have a home where reading is a part of life. Start out reading to the child, and let the child see you reading for enjoyment.
  • My sister is resource teacher for an elementary school. She said that the problem with younger children is that they think that a book is just a bunch of words that make no sense unless a parent/adult reads them aloud. Try getting your child to write down letters of alphabet. Explain that each letter has it's own sound and is different from all the other letters. Once he has understood what letters make what sounds try getting him to write words, then move onto sentences. After he's been working sentences for a while ask him to tell you a story. Write down the story he tells you then show it to him. Explain to him that he was the one who came up with that story. Then ask him to read the story.
  • Many popular children's cartoons come in book form. You can also try comic books. You can both take a trip to a local comic book store and let him choose something he likes to read (Make sure it's age appropriate).
  • Throw out your TV. A week without television has been shown to improve reading and attention span. Without a TV he will turn to books for the stories and stimulation he got from TV and movies. Reading improves with practice. As his reading improves you might consider bringing it back. But, you might find that your life is better without it. Set a good example and read every day yourself, read for fun.
  • try getting a tape recorder and have him read a book aloud being taped and then play the tape back to himself while reading the book of his choice.
  • I found that the good old PHONICS books helped me, as I was a poor reader. Once you get the sounds and spellings under your belt, just encourage reading without pressure and negative reinforcement. Keep it simple with a lot of praise for doing well (not "good job") if it's not. Don't be negative but also don't "overpraise" for non-performance. Make it fun. I teach mathmatics while having a great time bowling~! They do great and don't even realize they are learning math ( as well as turn-taking, sportsmanship etc...)
  • Years ago, I was a pregnant single mother with two toddlers and very few financial resources. However, I always made it clear to my children that I would buy them any book they wanted if there were something they were interested in reading about. If you make reading important and enjoyable, your children will do the same. Some tips that were useful for me were: 1. Read to him every night, preferably at the same time (Just before bed worked well for me) and keep it relatively short so he won't get bored. 2. Stop the story or the book at an interesting part, so that he'll look forward to the next night's story time. 3. Let him choose books on subjects that he is interested in and pick one day out of the week where he gets to read whatever he wants to you! 4. Make a trip to the bookstore fun and exciting...stop at the park first or get a treat afterwards. And it doesn't have to be Barnes & Noble...the book sections in thrift stores or the local Goodwill are wonderful sources. 5. Sports magazines are great resources to get a child interested in reading. 6. Let him look at the pages as you read. My youngest son was very interested in spiders, snakes and bugs around eight years of age and became something of an expert on reptiles because of all the reading he did. Your question indicates that you are aware of the importance of being a good reader so, you're halfway there already!!