In case you missed it, check out Part 1: Tips for parents of pre and partial alphabetic readers.
It’s an exciting time when your child gets to the stage where they are starting to sound out words on their own. It can sometimes be hard for parents to remember what those early days of reading are really like. Kids make many mistakes as they learn to read (even the same ones over and over again), and you may find it hard to believe how slowly it comes at first. Don’t panic. It’s normal! So, if you don’t read any further down on the page, please take this first tip to heart:
Be your child’s cheerleader. Encourage your child’s efforts by helping them notice their successes and the progress they are making. Your patience and supportive feedback can make a big difference. Make sure your child knows just how proud of them you are and that their progress shows.
Encourage your child to read with you. This is a great time to begin to sound out select words in books you are reading together. As your child progresses you can even start taking turns reading words or sentences. Show your child that you enjoy listening to them read too, by taking the time to sit down with them as they read.
Book selection. Your job is to help pick interesting books for you and your child to enjoy together. Please don’t get too caught up in a book’s difficulty level.* Follow your child’s lead, and tailor reading time to what will be engaging for both of you. It’s good to encourage your child to make an effort, but you do not want reading time to become drudgery.
Read and spell. Spelling helps children more accurately store word forms in memory. Asking children how they think a word is spelled, and then checking it in the text is another way to help them better learn it for both reading and writing. Model looking words up in the dictionary. As children’s reading abilities develop, they can help more and more in the process, allowing them to engage both with the word’s meaning and spelling. I certainly stand by the fact that one of the most useful answers my mother ever gave me growing up was “Look it up in the dictionary.”
And remember, books are great starting points for conversation. Talk about, make jokes, and review words from the text throughout the week. This will all help your child practice and remember what they’ve learned.
*A note about decodable books. You may have heard mention of decodable books. Decodable books control the introduction of different sound spelling patterns, so that kids can have focused practice with texts based on the sound spellings they have been taught. These can be especially helpful and motivating during the earliest stages of reading. Most of our books would be considered decodable. But don't limit you and your child to decodable texts; the most important thing is that you are there to support them with their reading practice. You can help your child learn to read!
Check out these free writing pages: