One of the biggest hurdles for children learning to read is building confidence in their abilities. As parents and teachers we can't see them wobbling , knuckles white on a handle bar like we can as we prepare to take training wheels off a bike but for many children the fear of failing at reading is as real as the fear of falling hard onto the pavement. You don't need a degree in education to provide a safe and supportive environment for your beginning reader.
Here are 5 ways to give your child who is starting to read more confidence to keep going and trying more challenging words and books.
Read To a Younger Sibling or Pet.
When I was studying early literacy at university we got a chance to work and learn about reading dogs. They are trained dogs that go into classrooms and sit and listen to children reading. The dog doesn't judge the child if they stumble on a word , they don't correct or laugh , they just listen. If you don't have a pet a stuffed animal works for some children and I know my son loves reading to his sister. It's a win win situation for me she is getting read to and he is gaining skill and confidence!
Choose Books Wisely
My son wants to read chapter books about Star Wars. That's it. I want him to read a wide array of books and to read independently ( which he can't do with chapter books yet) so we choose one chapter book and more leveled readers that challenge him only some of the time allowing him to feel successful and build that confidence.
Model Reading Strategies
When my son started reading more I knew I would have to adjust how I read aloud to him, just a little. I take more time sounding out words that are new to me so he sees that reading isn't a magical gift give to you between the ages of 4-8 it's a skill you build and practice. For us those Star Wars chapter books and their odd alien names have been a blessing in showing my son that even Mommy and Daddy have to sound out words, use pictures as clues and sometimes we don't get it right. Showing fallibility to your kids is not a bad thing. Messing up a word isn't a huge defeating hurdle when even mom and dad do sometimes.
Don't Correct Too Much
I know it's habit to correct your kids but when your children are reading with you limit the number of corrections and focus on their effort. The same way you wouldn't remark " That doesn't look like a tree are you nuts?" when your preschooler shows you their drawing with emergent readers you want to build that confidence. This doesn't mean never correct but if they are really struggling with a book you need to find an easier one. When you do correct avoid saying " No , read it again." " That's not what it says?!" instead try a detective approach saying things like " Does that word fit with the story?" " Does that sound right?".