Teaching Children to Read: Follow These Steps

Are you looking for fun and impactful ways to help with teaching children to read? This guide is designed specifically for new parents like you seeking ways to support their children’s early literacy development.

We understand how important it is to set the foundation for reading skills, and we’re here to provide you with simple steps to get started. With the right approach and a little bit of patience, you’ll be amazed at the progress your child can make.

Why is Teaching Children to Read Important?

Reading is a fundamental skill that plays a significant role in your child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. By mastering reading, your little one will gain access to a world of knowledge, imagination, and creativity. But the benefits don’t stop there!  

Cognitive Development Benefits

Developing strong reading skills enhances your child’s overall cognitive development. Reading helps improve memory, vocabulary, and critical thinking abilities. It also fosters a sense of curiosity as children learn about different topics and explore various perspectives through the stories they read.  

Social and Emotional Development

Reading doesn’t just boost your child’s brain power; it also helps develop their social and emotional skills. Through reading, children can learn empathy and understanding by experiencing the emotions of different characters. Reading also exposes children to diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, promoting open-mindedness and tolerance.  

Academic Success and Future Opportunities

Studies have shown that early reading proficiency strongly predicts academic success. Children who develop strong reading skills at an early age are more likely to perform well in school, excel in various subjects, and enjoy greater opportunities in their future careers. Teaching your child to read supports their growth and sets them up for a bright future.

Teaching Children to Read: Simple Steps for Parents

With the right approach and a few simple steps, you can teach your children how to read and encourage excitement over reading. Here are some essential techniques to help guide your child on their reading journey.


Phonics helps children understand the relationship between letters and their corresponding sounds, which is crucial for decoding words. Try to use engaging activities like letter-sound matching games, songs, and flashcards to help your child practice phonics. Another easy way to incorporate phonics is to encourage them to sound out words in their favorite books.

Familiar Words

Start with relevant words to your child’s life and interests to make learning more engaging and relatable. You can play word-based games like “I Spy” or create personalized flashcards with pictures of familiar objects or family members to help your child recognize and read these words

One Word at a Time

Teach your child to pay attention to each word in a sentence, breaking down and sounding out unfamiliar words. Help your child understand word structure by identifying prefixes, suffixes, and root words or using the “chunking” method to break words into smaller, more manageable parts.

Ample Exposure and Lots of Repetition

Repeated exposure to words and texts helps to reinforce reading skills and improve reading fluency. Try to create a consistent reading schedule, read aloud together, and encourage your child to practice reading independently.

Illustrations and Large Print

Illustrations can help children understand the meaning of words and provide context for the story. Look for books with large print, clear illustrations, and simple sentences that match your child’s reading level and interests.

High-Frequency Vocabulary

High-frequency words make up a large portion of written text, making them crucial for reading fluency. Examples include, “it”, “as”, “the” and “with.” You can use flashcards, books, games, and interactive activities to help your child easily recognize and read high-frequency words.

Pre-literacy Skills and Pre-K

Before children can become successful readers, they need to develop a strong foundation of pre-literacy skills. Pre-literacy skills are the building blocks for reading and writing.

Enrolling your child in pre-K programs supports their pre-literacy development and sets them on the path to becoming confident readers. Some key pre-literacy skills are:

  1. Print awareness: Recognizing the purpose and features of print, such as understanding that words are read from left to right.
  2. Phonological awareness: Recognizing and manipulating word sounds, including rhyming, blending, and segmenting.
  3. Letter recognition: Identifying and naming uppercase and lowercase letters.
  4. Vocabulary development: Building a rich vocabulary to understand and express themselves effectively.

Pre-K programs offer a mix of engaging activities, play-based learning, and age-appropriate instruction that helps children develop language and communication skills, gain familiarity with the alphabet and letter sounds, build a strong vocabulary foundation, and practice essential listening and speaking skills.

Participating in a high-quality pre-K program can help children establish the foundation they need to become successful readers. When deciding whether to enroll your child in a pre-K program, remember to consider your child’s age and readiness, the quality of the available pre-K programs, and your family’s needs.

Additionally, make sure your child is at the appropriate age and emotionally prepared for a classroom environment. You can do this by researching quality programs in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area and think about how pre-K fits within your family’s lifestyle and budget.

Addressing Reading Challenges

While teaching children to read can be an exciting and rewarding process, it’s essential to recognize that every child learns at their own pace, and some may face unique challenges along the way. Here are some common reading challenges and strategies to support your child as they overcome these obstacles.

Dyslexia and Reading Ability

Dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects a person’s ability to read, write, and spell. It is unrelated to intelligence but can create difficulties in reading comprehension and fluency.

If your child struggles with this, seek professional guidance from a reading specialist or educational psychologist, use multisensory teaching techniques, and provide additional reading practice and support at home.

Slow Processing and ADHD

Children with slow processing or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may struggle to focus, concentrate, and retain information while reading. Certain strategies can help children navigate these challenges.

For example, you could break reading tasks into smaller, manageable steps, use visual aids to reinforce concepts, create a structured and predictable reading routine, and consider seeking guidance from a professional or support group.

About MECK Pre-K

MECK Pre-K is high quality free pre-K education open to all four-year-old children in Mecklenburg County. Classrooms are located in licensed childcare centers and taught by licensed teachers and highly qualified assistant teachers. MECK Pre-K is administered by Smart-Start of Mecklenburg County and funded by Mecklenburg County.

Do you have a child who is not old enough for pre-K this year? Sign up for our email list and be notified when they’re eligible for MECK Pre-K. Simply go to MeckPreK.org/future-meck-pre-k-students and select your child’s age group.