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Blog - For Parents - Early Childhood Tips & Tricks

Top Mistakes to Avoid When Teaching Kids to Read

Sept. 7, 2021

As parents, we all want our kids to learn the basics as soon as possible to be successful in both school and life. And when it comes to reading, it always seems as though other parent’s kids are learning to read sooner than ever before! If you’re feeling the pressure to get your child reading as soon as possible, you’re not alone! After all, preschool and kindergarten curriculums have changed over the years, with a much higher expectation for what skills students come to school with when they enter the classroom for the first time.

 If this sounds like a familiar dilemma, then this article is for you! No matter if your kid is a toddler, or already in the thick of learning to read in grade school, Kids Academy has compiled the ultimate list of the top mistakes to avoid when teaching your child to read. Instead, find reading strategies to use to foster your little learner’s early reading skills!

The Top Mistakes That Parents Make When Teaching Kids to Read

1. You Don’t Read Yourself

Haven’t had the time to sit down with a good book lately? That’s completely understandable as being a parent is busy and exhausting! Between work, school, soccer practice, and everything else your family has going on each day, it might seem impossible to find the time to squeeze in some alone time for reading. But believe it or not, your early learner will be more interested in reading if they see a parent doing it themselves. Kids are constantly watching adults and they value the things that we do. It only makes sense that if we value reading, they are more likely to do so as well! If you are lost in conjectures where to start, Kids Academy offers best chapter books to read aloud.

  father is reading

With that said, it’s important to make reading a priority. Determine a good time to squeeze in some reading, even if it’s while you’re waiting for dinner to cook, while the older kids are showering, or carve out twenty minutes each night before the bath routine begins. Sit down and pick up a book where your little learner can see and encourage him or her to join you while flipping through their own book or simply spending some quiet time with you as you read. When children see this occurring consistently, they learn to value and enjoy their own reading time more, eventually carving out their own time to read as they become more independent!

2. Pushing Too Hard, Too Soon

It’s all too common to compare our families to those of friends and acquaintances, especially when we see constant social media posts about their accomplishments. So, when we hear that little Johnny is reading Harry Potter at four years old, it’s only natural to wonder if we’re doing something wrong when it comes to our own kids’ reading skills! But don’t forget that one of the biggest mistakes parents can make is pushing their children to read too hard, and too soon! Not only is it a sure way to discourage kids from loving to read, but it can set them even further back in their learning.

 Instead, it’s more important to nurture a love for reading by keeping it simple. Instead of investing in a full reading curriculum or tutor for your preschooler, it’s more important and effective to simply read aloud with your child each evening and enjoy books together. While there’s nothing wrong with teaching toddlers about letters and their sounds, keep it light and enjoyable to avoid putting pressure on them to learn. Wait until your kid is ready to move on and pay little attention to what your friend’s kids are reading on social media.

 3. Skipping Nightly Read-Alouds

As mentioned above, we get it: parenting is a busy and tiring job! Sometimes routines go by the wayside but skipping the nightly bedtime story is one major mistake to avoid! By making the nightly read-aloud a hallmark of the bedtime routine, children learn to look forward to and find comfort in reading each night. Most importantly, when adults model their own reading abilities, kids pick up on vocabulary, pronunciation, inflection, and so much more!

  father and son reading on sofa

To avoid needing to skip a night here and there, head to the library and check out a variety of books, including some that are short and quick for those nights when your family is just running behind. With a large selection on hand, there’s bound to be something that fit into your hectic schedule even on the busiest nights!

4. Skipping Pre-Reading Strategies

As kids get older, it’s important to increase reading comprehension skills. But often as we’re reading with children, we rush the experience by simply reading the book and putting it down. One common mistake parents make is by consistently skipping pre-reading strategies that children need to grow their comprehension skills. Other times, we simply underestimate the power of pre-reading strategies, or we just don’t know what to do for them.

  mom and daughter reading

To fix this, tackle pre-reading strategies when your family has the time to dig into a good children’s book. Begin by asking your child about the title and the illustrations on the front cover to help them brainstorm what they think the book might be about. Other strategies include pre-teaching vocabulary words or themes so kids can make stronger connections while they read. Hold a conversation about the same moral that is presented in the book, and after reading, ask your child if their opinion changed or stayed the same. By having these conversations before reading, kids can think more deeply about what they read, and make personal connections that are meaningful to them.

5. Asking Too Many Questions

Asking questions while reading is an important way to gauge comprehension and to encourage kids to think about the plot and make predictions. Another mistake that many parents make while teaching kids to read is stopping too often to ask too many questions before the end of the book. However, like with anything else, there should be a balance or moderation. While we want kids to stop and think about what they’re reading, if they stop too much, they can grow frustrated and uninterested in the book. Furthermore, they are more likely to forget what they read if they are derailed and get off-topic by thinking about too many questions.

To avoid this mistake, read the book ahead of time and think of one or two key elements to touch upon while reading, such as conflict, or characterization. Think of a couple of questions about those elements, and keep your child focused on those elements while reading. That way, kids are still actively thinking about the book, but won’t grow frustrated by the sheer number of questions to answer before getting to the end.

6. Asking Children to Sound Every Word Out

Similarly, it could be stressful and frustrating for young readers who are constantly struggling to sound out each word they encounter. There’s no doubt that sounding words out is an important skill for little learners to master, but if they are struggling to do so as they muddle their way through a book, it will become tiring while comprehension falters.

  a boy is reading aloud

Avoid this mistake by choosing a reader that isn’t too high of a level for your child’s current reading level. In addition, teach your child to utilize a variety of reading strategies, including using reading worksheets,  pictures and context clues to figure out tough words. Of course, they can sound out some words as needed, as long as they are using a variety of strategies to decode words and move through the book.

 Teaching kids to read is a long process that starts from toddlerhood and lasts throughout the grade school years. Luckily it need not be difficult if parents and caregivers do what they can to avoid the most common mistakes when teaching children to read. Listed above are some of the most common mistakes we make that can frustrate and demotivate learners. To avoid them, simply make a few adjustments to your daily reading routine to ensure that your kids cultivate both their skills and love for reading!

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