Q: How can I help my daughter learn how to read? She is in kindergarten and most of the others kids are reading. I don't know how to help her.
A: Learning to read is one of the most important accomplishments your child will need to make in school. It is the key to success in all subject areas and overall academic progress. So it is wise that you are committed to helping her right from the start, in the kindergarten years.
There are some simple things that you can do at home to support her learning at school. First and foremost, read aloud to her every night, without exception. Reading aloud is the perfect tool to promote the pleasure and enjoyment of reading and to offer her a good model (you) of what reading is all about.
Second, play language games with her to help her become aware of the sounds of language. In order to learn to read, children must be able to hear sounds in words and then begin to match those sounds to letters. By singing songs and clapping to the rhythm, by listening for words that rhyme in poems and stories, and by talking about words (those that begin or end with the same sound, those that sound alike) you will be helping your child think consciously about language.
Third, encourage your child to write — even if she is just making scribbles. Writing actually helps develop reading skills. By forming letters, children learn to recognize certain words like their names. They also learn that written language is a communication tool. You can ask your child to help you make a grocery list. You can play "restaurant" and ask your child to be the waiter who writes down your food order. Soon you will begin to see letters and even words mixed in with the scribbles.
These are the three most important ways to help your child along the road to reading in the kindergarten and first-grade years. Of course, your child's teacher may have other suggestions that will directly support what is happening at school. Good communication between home and school will also foster your child's reading success.
About the Author:
Susan Canizares holds a PhD in language and literacy development.