Helping Your Child Learn to Read and Write


What can I do to help my child read?

  • Read to your child every day.
  • Encourage your child to read to you. (Even if he/she “reads “ the pictures). Encourage your child to bring books home from school.
  • Look at all the pictures first.
  • Make predictions about what will happen next.
  • After reading the story, discuss what happened.

What else should we read?

Reading is not just a bedtime story!

  • Cereal boxes
  • Store signs
  • Road signs
  • Bills
  • Grocery lists

How do I choose books to read?

  • Go to your public library.
  • Choose books with pictures to support the story.
  • Match your child’s (and your) interests.
  • For younger children– large print with only a few lines on a page.

STOP! and use the 5 finger rule when you choose a book!

Read a page in the middle of the book. Put up one finger for every “clunk” you have.

  • 0 fingers- too easy
  •  1-3 fingers-just right!
  • 4-5 fingers- quite hard
  • 5+ fingers- too hard for now

My child seems to memorize the words. Is that Okay?

☺ Memorizing is a natural part of a child’s early reading development.

☺ Memorize nursery rhymes.

☺ Repeat phrases and match print to words.

☺ Memorizing builds fluency and helps reading

Should my child use his/her finger to point to the words?

  • Pointing to words (tracking) is one of the first strategies that we teach.
  • This helps a child look at the words and focus on the sounds and letters.
  • Even adults will sometimes “finger point” when the text gets harder.
  • Eventually (usually by second grade) your child will learn to “point” with his eyes or to use a bookmark.

Should I cover up the pictures? No! Looking at pictures is a strategy that good readers use. Pictures are a clue!

What do I do when my child doesn’t know a word?

  • Have your child look at the pictures for clues.
  • Check the first letter, say the sound, and make a guess. What about ending sounds?
  • Ask the child to see if the “guess” makes sense, looks right and sounds right.
  • Re-read and make another attempt.
  • If your child tries and still struggles after 5 seconds – tell him/her the

How will writing help my child learn to read?

  • Reading and writing are linked processes.
  • Often the first thing your child reads is his own writing.
  • Print sends a message.
  • Build words out of letter tiles. (Making Words)
  • Write at home – grocery lists, notes to you, letters to relatives, pictures with labels
  • Make writing materials available –pens, crayons, envelopes, old stationary, cards

What else?

  •  Have your child say the word slowly “stretching it out.” You may need to exaggerate the sounds early on.
  • Have your child write down the sounds that they hear. Accept inventive spelling in early grades.
  • Make sure all Word Wall Words are spelled correctly.
  • Your child’s reading/writing vocabulary grows from practice.

Does writing always need to be done on paper?

  • Practice writing letters in shaving cream.
  • Write in the air.
  • Keep a journal or a diary.
  • Writing opportunities are everywhere!


  • Reading should always be fun!
  • Read lower level or easier books at home.
  • A reader is like an athlete….the more you practice, the better you get!
  • Praise your child’s efforts! “Mistakes” are building blocks to learning!
  • Enjoy reading and writing with your child….make memories.


Jeannette Mulholland, Reading Specialist, Jefferson County Schools

Read to Your Bunny, by Rosemary Wells

Read to Me: Raising Kids Who Love to Read, by Bernice E. Cullinan

When a Child Reads, by Denise Worthington