reading on your own
Fill your house with stacks of books,Dr Seuss
in all the crannies and all the nooks.
When it comes to teaching your child to learn how to read, it takes more than simply filling your house with books, doesn’t it? Oh, don’t get me wrong, having lots of books around certainly helps! But it’s more than simply having lots of things to read around the house.
You want your child to learn to love to read.
You want them to know how to read well and to understand what they’re reading.
You want them to not only read when they have to, but to read just for the sheer pleasure of reading.
But how do you get there? How do you teach your child to learn to love reading and to read well?
Well, it starts with understanding the big picture of why reading is so important. You see, once you understand the why, it’s much easier to figure out how to actually teach you child to read!
Yet this still leaves the question: How do you do it? How do you teach your child to read?
Now, you need to understand that every child’s learning journey and learning pace is different from any other child’s. But there are 4 key methods that should be included as every child is learning to read:
Method 1 :: Reading out loud to your child (Click here to dive deep into what this looks like in Part 1 of this series.)
Method 2 :: Having your child read out loud to you (Click here to dive deep into what this looks like in Part 2 of this series.)
Method 3 :: Having your child read silently
Method 4 :: Modeling reading silently to your child
Let’s wrap up talking about these 4 methods in hushed tones and dive into the world of reading silently…
Having your child read silently
Now, the concept of having your child read silently is not a hard one to grasp. It’s actually incredibly simple: Have your child pick up a book and read it.
So the question isn’t so much how this can be accomplished. Instead, it’s more a question of how you can teach your child to learn to love to read and want to read all on their own!
Fostering a Love of Reading
How do you foster a love of reading? As your child grows, how do you encourage them to pick up books and keep reading without sitting them down and forcing them to read under pain of your intense displeasure or the threat of losing a favorite toy?
Did you know that you can begin fostering a love of reading at an early age? It’s true! Think about it: Even little ones like to look at colorful pictures in books. Why not set your little one up with a stack of picture books for them to sit and “read”? Granted, at age 1 – or even 3 – your child is not going to be reading the words. But they will be entertained by the pictures and this begins to set the stage for reading on their own.
If your child is older and you’ve never done this, don’t worry! It’s never too late to begin to foster a love of reading in your child. Don’t give into the discouragement that comes with the “I never did that!” mentality! Remember, this is all about starting where you are and taking small, consistent steps forward to get where you want to be.
No matter what age your child is, one of the biggest keys to encourage them to read is to surround them with books on topics they’re interested in.
Think about it like this: If you’re interested in kangaroos and you saw a book about kangaroos, you would most likely pick it up and start reading it, right? But what if all you saw around you were books about turtles? Would you pick up the books and read? Not very likely. However, if you love turtles and you want to learn about turtles and there are a bunch of books about turtles around you, would you pick up the books and read? Very likely!
This same principle holds true for your child. If you surround them with books about topics they enjoy, they’ll be much more likely to pick up the books and start checking them out all on their own.
Now, this doesn’t mean you only give your child books on topics that they’re interested in. Encouraging your child to read about different topics and to read different types of books is part of learning to read.
However, when it comes to fostering and fueling a love of reading, you need to start with where your child is at and build on that foundation.
What Does This Look Like?
When you’re creating a new habit – anything from making your bed to carving out time to read – the most effective way to create that new habit it to attach it to a current habit or something that’s already of great importance. For example, you can build in a time of reading silently into your homeschooling day. Or you could connect it to an afternoon routine or morning routine you’ve already established. It could become part of homework time or even part of your nap time or chill time routine. You see, it’s less about where you place this in your day and more about being intentional to carve out the time to read silently.
So, how long do you have your child read silently? The answer to this question is one that only you can answer. There are a lot of factors to consider – your child being the biggest one. What amount of time can they handle? Remember, the goal is to encourage and foster a love of reading, not embarrass them or create a time of torture! Will 10 minutes be a good amount of time? 15? 30? Your child’s age, capability, and reading proficiency will play a huge role in figuring out how long this time block should be.
Again, remember, if this is brand new, start small! Start with a tiny step in the right direction.
Now, as children grow, the amount of time they should spend reading silently should grow with them. But did you catch the key word there? It’s grow. Start small and allow the time to grow with your child – as they grow in age, in their reading skills, and in their love of reading.
Here’s one of the coolest things: When you combine a set amount of time to read with books on topics that interest your child, a shift starts to happen. This time of reading will change from something your child has to do to something they get to do. Be patient. Don’t try to rush this shift, but keep watching for it because at some point, it will happen.
Are They Actually Reading?
There are a couple different ways you can know whether your child is taking the time to read. First of all, if they’re sitting down with a book in your family room and reading for the amount of time you’ve set, it’s pretty easy to see it happening!
Another fun and simple way to know your child is reading happens when they come to you and start telling you the story of their current book. Now, if your child doesn’t volunteer this information, ask! Ask them to tell you about their book or their favorite part of the story or their favorite character. Even if you’ve never read that particular book, you can enjoy hearing the storyline through your child.
Another way to track progress is to have your child fill out a reading sticker chart. Now, this isn’t complicated at all! In fact, you can grab a free sticker chart template just below. Here’s how you use it: When your child finishes reading a book, put a sticker in one of the squares. On the next page, simply write in the title of the book and the author. There’s even a place for you to write the number of pages in the book.
The beauty of this chart is that you can use it when your child is reading Fancy Nancy and Dr Seuss books all the way up until they are reading chapter books. And there is something very satisfying about filling an entire chart up with stickers to show how much you’ve read. And when your child fills in one chart, all you have to do is print out another one and start again!
Plus, it serves as a double check to make sure your child is reading a variety of books and not the same ones over and over again! The list of books they are reading can also show you what type of books are grabbing your child’s interest, which give you more information to be able to suggest different books they will be interested in reading.
Are They Understanding?
When you child is reading out loud to you and you’re asking them questions about the story as you read, it’s very easy to tell whether or not your child is understanding the words they’re reading. But what happens when they start reading more and more on their own? How do you make sure they’re understanding what they’re reading?
One of the easiest ways to check if your child is understanding is by listening and asking questions. Like we just talked about, when your child starts telling you about their current book, you can know they’re understanding what they’re reading.
But there are many other ways you can check this. Be sure to check out this post on ways you can have fun and find out if your child is understanding the books they’re reading all at the same time.
Choosing the Books
Let’s be real, sometimes the hardest part of having your children read is choosing books they will be interested in reading, isn’t it?
Now, there are so many good books out there to read that it would be impossible to list all of them here, but here are a few of my family’s favorites to get you going:
- The Berenstain Bear series
- The Fancy Nancy series
Easy Chapter Books
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- The Boxcar Children series
- The Puppy Place series
- The Kitty Corner series
- Bindi’s Wildlife Adventure series
- The A-Z Mystery Series
- The National Park Mystery Series
More Challenging Chapter Books
Modeling reading silently to your child
Let’s be real: Sitting down to spend time reading silently probably isn’t at the top of your to do list, right? There’s a lot to do in a day and a lot of it falls on momma’s plate! Somehow, it’s a lot easier to carve out time to sit down and have your child read to you or even read to your child than to take a few moments for yourself, isn’t it?
And yet, your child needs to see you sitting down to enjoy a good book – even if it’s only for 10 minutes!
So how do you do it? How do you carve out time in your day to make this happen? Why not include your child in your silent reading time? No, I’m not kidding! Here’s what you do:
Set your timer for 10 minutes or 15 minutes and declare that until the timer goes off, everyone – including you! – needs to grab a book and enjoy some reading time. If you have little ones. you could do this while their napping. You could so this during the afternoon lull or even when everyone needs a few minutes of space from each other.
The concept is super simple, but at the same time it can be really hard to be intentional and take the time to read.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t do this every day. Sometimes this window of time is quiet and sometimes it’s filled with interruptions. I don’t do this perfectly! But I do try. And sometimes trying is more than enough.
Just like our children need to struggle and to try again as they first begin reading, many times they need to see us as mommas trying, failing, owning up to our mistakes, and trying again. As crazy as this sounds, when our children see us walking through this cycle and learning and growing through it, it gives them confidence and assurance that they’re not the only ones who struggle. Who knows? Watching us through this process might give them the confidence they need to try one more time.
The Final Chapter
Teaching your child to not only learn to read, but to love reading is a challenge. It’s hard to be consistent over time, yet those small, consistent steps are what is going to help your child learn to read so much better than you every could have imagined!
As you walk through this journey of teaching your child to learn to read, remember this: Give yourself grace!
There will be days when everything goes smoothly and reading is an absolute joy! And there will be days where it won’t feel like such a joy. Keep in mind, it’s not about perfection! The progress is found in the process. Just keep taking one small step in the right direction day after day and you’ll be well on your way to teaching your child to learn to read – and to love reading.
- Why Is Reading With Your Kids So Important?
- How To Teach Your Child to Read in a Simple, Easy Way, Part 1
- How To Teach Your Child to Read in a Simple, Easy Way, Part 2
- Creative Book Reports
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.