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The One Thing Every Parent Should Do To Help Their Child Learn To Read

One of the most common questions I get asked by parents is,

‘What can I do to help my child learn to read?’

And in my opinion the answer is very simple.

It can be summed up in four words.

Read to your child.

Yep, that’s it – I really could leave it at that!

But I won’t….. I like to explain the details….

Learning to read is made up of a range of skills that your child needs to learn. As parents we worry if we are doing enough to help our child learn to read or will they be one of those poor kids who struggle to learn to read.   Chances are you have already tried this or that to help your child read but you still feel you are not doing it right.

But I still think the BEST bang for your buck is reading to your child.

So why is reading to your child so good?

Because it pretty much covers everything your child needs to know.

Here are the reasons I think you should be reading to your child EVERY DAY:


1.       Your Child Will See Words

Although your young child may not be able to read the words on the page, by seeing them they will start to grasp the concept that those squiggles on the page mean something. And those words are constant – they stay the same every time you read them. My two-and-a-half year old daughter was reading a new book in the back of the car the other (yes, it was one of those purchases I had bribed her with for being a good girl at the shops!) and she said, ‘Mummy, can you read this book to me. I can’t read.’

Oh, it nearly broke my heart! She knew there was magic in those words but couldn’t unlock them! Aww, still brings a tear to my eye….

Anyway,  if your child sees a word  pop up all the time, there is a good chance they will learn to read them.


2.       Your Child Will See Pictures

Illustrations and images really help a child comprehend a story. And when they are ‘reading’ the book back to their teddy bears they will use the pictures to help them tell the story. This is also a great strategy your child may use later down the track to help them work out what the words on the page say.



3.       Your Child Will Hear Language

Words, words, words! Your child will learn the meaning of different words (building their vocabulary), they will hear the sounds in the words (helpful with sound awareness) and hear ideas and concepts they may never have heard of(building content knowledge). All these things are super important for learning to read.


4.       Your Child Will Learn How To Hold A Book

Sounds simple doesn’t it?! But learning very basic book concepts are so important for your child. When you read to them they will watch how you hold the book. If you point to the words as you read they will learn that there is a difference between the words and the pictures, they will learn that reading usually starts at the top of a page and more often than not reading goes from left to right. Your child will also see which way you hold the book and how to turn the pages!  Awesome!


5.       Your Child Will See That You Value Reading

I think the power of monkey see, monkey do is enormous! It is much easier to make your child a reader if they think that it is just ‘normal’ to read every day and that it is something that can be for pleasure. If time is dedicated to reading, your child will think it’s important because you show them it’s important.


6.       Your Child Develops Their Concentration Skills

A huge part of reading is taking the time to sit down, read it and understand it. You can’t expect a young child who has never repeatedly had the opportunity to sit down and listen to a story to suddenly be able to do it when they go to school. Some kids might be able to, but like anything, learning to concentrate is a thing best practised. And even if you only start with a minute or two of reading at a time, you are on the right track.


7.       Your Child Develops Their Listening Skills

Sitting down and listening to a story is a skill that needs to be practised. And even more important to just listening is that your child understands what is being read to them. Ask questions about the story and see if your child can answer them.


8.       Your Child Will Hear How A Story Is Meant To Sound

Those poor little things – when learning to read those words on the page begins it is often a very slow and painful experience for everyone! The story starts. And stops. And starts. And stops again – and this can go on for what seems like an eternity! By hearing you read, your child will get an idea of how reading is meant to sound and they will try to replicate this in their own reading.


9.       Your Child Will Explore New And Exciting Worlds

Many of the things my daughter knows about are due to a book. Dinosaurs, ballet, The Cat In The Hat are all things that started in a story and then when she showed interest we searched for more information or examples in things like movies and Youtube.  Reading to Your child can really boost their curiosity and imagination.


10.   Setting Them Up For School

The reality of a classroom is that they will either be read to or at a later stage need to read by themselves. By reading to your child, you are helping them develop the essential skills they need to help them learn to read. Your child needs to develop these skills in the years before going to school. Give your child the best chance of reading success by reading to them to learn these skills.


So…. being read to makes you feel good.

It is time your child gets to spend with you.

And you with them.

They get to snuggle into your arms.

And laugh, cry and be surprised with you.

And with all these warm, beautiful feelings surrounding reading ,

Your child will develop a positive association with reading.

They may even love to read.


So go on – what book will you read to your child today?

Happy reading,

Leigh xx


3 Responses to “The One Thing Every Parent Should Do To Help Their Child Learn To Read”

  1. Norah Colvin on October 4th, 2014 6:32 pm

    Excellent advice for all parents of young children.

  2. theed on October 7th, 2014 6:57 am

    Thanks for your encouraging comment Norah!

  3. Lynsey on October 7th, 2014 11:59 am

    Awesome post with some things that are so simple we forget in this world of technology. Thanks for sharing! X

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