The Road to Literacy: Teaching Your Child How to Read
Wed, April 21, 2021

The Road to Literacy: Teaching Your Child How to Read


Reading is the façade of education and plays a critical role in your child’s life and academic success, noted Age of Learning, an education technology innovator. Reading regularly helps build and improve vocabulary, as well as their academic performance. It can also help your child become more emphatic and confident. When your child lags behind in reading, it would make it difficult for them to learn about different subjects as they advance in each grade level.

Survey On Early Reading Instruction

Ed Week Research Center, a division of Editorial Projects in Education, found that the philosophies of teaching early reading among K-2 and elementary special education teachers and post-secondary instructors were balanced literacy (68% and 57%), explicit, systemic phonics (22% and 22%), other (5% and 16%), and whole language (3% and 4%). 2% of these groups were unsure of their philosophy of teaching early reading.

When asked if their school used balanced literacy, 72% said yes and 26% said no. Teachers in smaller districts with enrollments below 2,500 were less likely to report that their schools use balanced literacy (68%) compared to those in districts with enrollments of 2,500 to 9,900 (80%) and 10,000 or more (74%). Respondents defined balanced literacy as “shared, guided, or independent reading” (52%), phonics (52%), vocabulary and word study (39%), comprehension (30%), shared, guided, or independent writing (22%), and phonemic awareness (21%).

When asked what the respondents would tell their student who is learning to read when they encounter a word they don’t know, the participants said they would first ask the student to sound it out (59% of K-2 and elementary special education teachers and 57% of postsecondary instructors). Other ways cited by the teachers were looking at the pictures (27% and 9%), using context clues to make a good guess (13% and 30%), skipping it (1% and 3%), and asking a friend (1% of post-secondary instructors).

When asked how much the teachers place emphasis on phonics when teaching students to read, 70% of K-2 and elementary special education teachers said “a lot” compared to 55% of post-secondary instructors. Elementary school teachers spent 80 minutes and 31 minutes a day on literacy instructions and phonics instruction, respectively. According to the survey, 39% of reading instruction spend was spent on phonics.

Regarding the question “what’s the best way for elementary school teachers to keep track of which letter sounds individual students in their classrooms have mastered, ” 62% of K-2 and elementary special education teachers and 55% of post-secondary instructors answered, “Explicitly testing them on all the letter sounds several times a year.” Other methods included “Periodically asking students to read a passage and recording the words they got wrong” (11% and 13%) “Listening to students read informally” (8% and 14%). The respondents also believed that elementary teachers do not need to monitor this (7% and 2%), while others test their students’ reading comprehension (1% of all groups).

When asked where the K-2 and elementary special education teachers and post-secondary instructors learn about reading, they cited professional development (33% and 17%), their personal experiences with students in the K-12 classroom (17% and 12%), and curricula and programs they have taught (14% and 7%). They also mentioned their own research (8% and 11%), other teachers and mentors (7% and 5%), and preservice training (5% and 7%) as the respondents’ sources of reading knowledge.



How Do Kids Learn to Read?

Children learn to read when they can identify letters of combinations of letters and correlate those letters to sounds, according to research cited Jackie Mader of the Hechinger Report, a website covering inequality and innovation in education.

Attaching meaning to words and phrases are also helpful, but phonetic awareness and understanding phonics can help kids become better readers. If they don’t have a masterful grasp of phonics, they are more likely to have a hard time reading. Teachers (and parents) can help children learn how to read by leading them through a specific sequence of letters and sounds. If they learn to decode words, kids can apply that skill to more challenging words, helping them read with fluency.

Hence, it is important for schools to teach phonics from kindergarten until second grade and phonemic awareness from kindergarten to first grade. Reading should also involve more than phonics, stated Timothy Shanahan, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an expert on reading instruction. Children should also be exposed to writing, oral reading, and reading comprehension.

How Can Parents Teach Their Child to Read?

Reading is not about drilling your child, reminded Cindy Jiban, a former educator. Rather, it should be a playful activity. For example, you can challenge your child to find everything in the house that starts with a specific sound.

You can also stretch out one word in a sentence or phrase. When you ask your child to “pass the salt,” say the individual sounds in “salt” instead of the whole word. If you have a three- or four-year-old toddler, you can help them write a book about a fun day at a park or visiting your loved ones, suggested Zoe Kashner of Scholastic, an American multinational publishing, education, and media company.

Prepare a few pieces of paper and staple them together. Then, write down at least one or two of your child’s sentences on each sheet and read the story to them. You can also have your child illustrate the book. Encourage your child to join in read-alouds with their teacher to improve their vocabulary and content knowledge. “These read-alouds must involve interactive conversations to engage students in thinking about the content and using the vocabulary,” explained Wiley Blevins, an author and expert on phonics.



How Do I Know if My Child’s School Is Teaching Them How to Read Properly?

Ask your child how reading is taught in school if you want to find out if they receive research-based reading instruction, said Blevins. Ideally, your child should tell you something other than “by reading a lot of books” and “developing my love for reading."

It is recommended to ask your child’s teacher about the curriculum’s phonics scope and sequence, which serves as the groundwork for instruction. You can also ask what they are doing to help enrich your child’s vocabulary and background knowledge, including the frequency and the amount of time spent each day for this instruction.

If children are not progressing in their reading fluency, it can be due to a flaw in the curriculum or a learning disability. This can be hard to determine so parents are recommended to consult a professional or their children’s teacher.