Learning to Read

7 min read
Learning to Read

Learning to Read: Introduction

Many adults don’t research the process of learning to read until they start to teach their own children.

Literacy is not a “natural” procedure that begins on its own. Instead, learning to read requires a specific set of skills and strategies, including an understanding of phonics and phonemic awareness.

Phonics explore the relationship between letters and sounds, while phonemic awareness deals with understanding and identifying relationships between these letters and sounds.

The good news is that although learning to read can be fraught with complexities, parents can take simple steps to build literacy skills and enable their children to read and learn in a positive way. Below are 10 time-tested strategies that can help make a difference.

Use Songs and Nursery Rhymes to Build Phonemic Awareness

Children’s songs and nursery rhymes are not only fun but useful. Repetition allows children to hear the sounds and syllables in words that can later help them while learning to read.

Songs can also help build phonemic awareness. You can clap rhythmically with your child while reciting the rhymes in unison, simultaneously building the literacy skills needed for future reading success.

Make Word Cards at Home

learning_to_readTo practice combining letters and sounds, you can use index cards or small pieces of paper to make Word Cards. Write one word containing three letters (e.g. pig, sat, top, pot, and fin) on each card. Then, invite your child to choose a card. Read the word together while you hold up three fingers.

Ask your child to say the first sound they hear in the word, then the second, and lastly the third. This activity is simple and needs little preparation. It also helps build up essential phonics and decoding skills.

If your child is learning the letters of the alphabet, focus on each sound that a letter makes and discuss their names.

Engage Your Child with Print-Rich Themes


Create regular opportunities to build your child’s reading skills by producing a print-rich environment at home. Seeing printed words on posters, books, charts, or labels, enables your child to visually apply connections between letter symbols and sounds.

When you are outside, point to letters on billboards and signs. You can also start modeling how to sound out letters to make words. Emphasize the first letter in a word and ask your child about the sound the letter makes. What other word starts with that sound?

Recreate Word Games

Introduce some word games at home or even outside. Focus on playing games that encourage your child to listen, identify, and manipulate the sounds in words. For example, you might begin by asking: “What sound does the word _____________ start with? What sound does the word__________________ end with?”

Children require a set of core skills in order to read successfully. In addition to phonics and phonemic awareness, children must practice vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency in order to develop into strong and efficient readers.

Play with Letter Magnets

learning_to_readMiddle vowel sounds can be difficult to learn. Prepare letter magnets on the fridge and pull the vowels to a corner. Say a CVC word (consonant-vowel-consonant), such as “Cat,” and then ask your child to spell it using the magnets.

To help your child, say the vowel sound aloud and then point to the letter. Ask your child what makes a similar sound to the middle sound in “Cat.”

Harness Technology to Keep Your Child on their Toes

If learning to read is enjoyable, children will feel motivated to practice more frequently. Sometimes, children are full of excitement at the beginning of the process but feel overwhelmed when they hit a wall. 

It might feel impossible to resume practice as time passes and your child has to fill in the gaps. One convenient way to catch him up is through online self-paced lessons that match your child’s ability. You can view the instant progress reports online and monitor as your child improves his skills.

Read Aloud as a Parent and Ask Questions

Many parents don’t realize how much they can help their children by reading aloud to them. Children acquire reading skills simply by listening. When you demonstrate for your child the sound words make, you build key comprehension skills and vocabulary.



Strengthen your child’s comprehension skills by asking questions while reading and engaging with the text’s pictures. For older children, ask definitive questions that may spark their natural curiosity.

Play Games to Memorize Sight Words Every Day

Sight words are not easily sounded-out and require on-sight recognition. If you come across high-frequency sight words while reading or writing, you should point them out to your child. Some examples of common sight words include: I, we, had, have, they, where and does.

First, allow your child to look at the word and then say it. Learning to identify and subsequently read the word is essential to becoming a fluent reader. Most children can learn a few sight words around age four. You can practice sight words by playing with flashcards.

Be Patient with Children as They Learn

learning_to_readEvery child works at her own pace to assimilate language and vocabulary.

By reading every day and including a range of literacy activities, you can help form a pleasurable habit for your children.

Learning to Read: Conclusion

Reading needs to be fun for children. Ensure that you keep your activities engaging and active, especially through online reading comprehension tests, which give your child a better shot at becoming a reading whiz!

Children who read habitually at a young age grow more interested in the sounds of language and the concept of rhyming.

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Word activities organized around reading serve to provide the foundation for the development of practice.

Ultimately, your child’s ability to understand what they are reading is inextricably linked to how you and their teachers train them.