Best Tips for Young Readers – And Their Dads

Kids learning to read is one of those milestones we celebrate as parents. But the road to getting there isn’t always a smooth one. We might have one kid that takes to reading like a fish to water, and we might have another who has a harder time. This article is for them (and you).

How can you help your little reader that is struggling? Our Dad Community is on the case:

1. Make it fun. Label objects in your house and practice them. One dad said he puts simple silly phrases on sheets of paper (i.e. “daddy jumps three times” or “daughter sings a song”) and takes turns picking with his daughter. They each have to read their paper and then perform the act.

2. Find a series. Several dads mentioned finding a series based on hobbies/shows/etc. that their children enjoyed. At first they would read the books to them but slowly started having their child read a few sentences at a time until they officially took over.

And many series that their older siblings are reading have books adapted for emerging readers. Look for the numbers on these books, with 1 being the easiest.

Need a hint on where to start?

a. Dog Man
b. Paw Patrol
c. Fancy Nancy
d. Pinkalicious
e. Plus, many classics have been rewritten and illustrated for young readers

3. Everything is a word. Does your kid enjoy crafting or cooking? Most things require instructions, and therefore reading. Whether it’s making slime or baking cookies, have them help read the instructions on things they love doing. Hint: point to words they might know to reinforce success.

4. Utilize technology. There are definitely advantages to technology—and tons of apps that can help kids with things like phonics. One dad mentioned that he will have a show on that his child enjoys but will add subtitles. They will then spend that tv time hunting for words that they know and trying out words they don’t.

5. Build habits. It may feel like you need to sit your kid down for 30-45 minutes everyday in order for their reading to really take off. But their attention span just isn’t suited for that. Start with 15-20 minute blocks each day. It might begin with you doing the reading, but eventually, they’ll be the ones reading to you. That daily reading will become the norm for them.

6. Model reading. If you’re on your phone or watching TV, guess what they’re going to want to do? Let them see you reading. Kids watch what you’re doing more than they listen to what you’re telling them to do.

7. Talk to their pediatrician or teacher. One of the most common but under-diagnosed learning disabilities is dyslexia. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans have dyslexia, according to a study by Yale University. The good news is dyslexia can be remediated if caught when kids are young. Push your pediatrician and your teacher to test your kids. (Pro tip: too many public schools take a wait and see approach because it costs them more money to work with a dyslexic child. It’s your legal right to ask for testing.)

The most important thing is to show up, love your kid, and get them the support they need.

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