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Becoming a better reader

When reading, does your child:

  • guess at words by looking only at the first letter?
  • need you to spell words out?
  • get confused by what he or she has read?

Try these tips:

Make reading fun

  • Read to your child. We are never too old to enjoy a good story.
  • Practice reading books that are easy enough that your child’s skills become automatic.
  • Keep reading as stress free as possible. Giggle,… cuddle,… enjoy!
  • Let your child choose which parts of the book or sentence they read and try to fill in the gaps naturally.

Let your child choose what you read

Look at comic books, magazines or the internet. Watch a movie together and see if you can find the book it’s based on. Show your child that you read for fun too.

Talk about what you read

  • Talk about what you think about the characters, what just happened and what might happen next.
  • Relate the story to something from your child’s life. For example, “The boy in the story just got a new dog. Remember when we got our dog?”.

Teach your child about the parts of the book

They include the author, the table of contents, punctuation (e.g. periods, commas), upper and lower case letters, a beginning, middle and end.

Talk about words and sentences throughout your day.

  • Help your child learn new words. For example, “tired, exhausted, fatigued, and weary all mean the same thing.”
  • Play games with words and sentences. For example turn sentences into questions or challenge one another to find words that mean the same or are opposite.

Play with sounds

Learning to hear the difference between sounds will help your child read and spell, but speech happens so quickly that sounds can blur together.

  • Ask if your child can hear different sounds in sheep and cheep, or bet, bit, and bat. Slow words down and then say them again at a normal speed.
  • Break words apart to make them easier to read. If your child doesn’t know a word, look for the biggest chunk he or she can read . “Chunks” are 2 or more letters together. They can be:
    • at the beginning of words (e.g., triangle, triathlon, tricycle)
    • at the end (e.g., quickly, longest, helpful)
    • parts of grammar (e.g., singing, watches)
    • A small word within a bigger word (e.g., the word wind in window)

    For example, in the sentence “He is a fisherman”. Tell your child this sentence is talking about a man who catches fish. Talk about the words “fish” and “man”, and the chunk “er”. Ask your child to think about what the word is.

  • Talk about the difference between sounds and letter names. The letter “S” says the sound “ssss”. That’s a pretty simple one. This is harder… The letter “X” says two sounds “ks.” If you say its name, “X” becomes three sounds “eks.” Tricky, but important in learning to read.
  • Blend sounds and chunks together. Have your child say the sounds the letters make when writing (e.g., sss-ay instead of S-A-Y). Starts by saying the sounds slowly and gradually blend them together, saying the words more quickly.
  • Learn spelling rules and exceptions. Ask your child’s teacher how he or she teaches these rules and if you can have a copy of the lessons to use at home.

Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your teacher to find out about school supports
  • Programs at your local library
  • Visit the Talk ​Box - A parent guide to creating language rich environments.​​​​​​​​​​​

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