Skip to content

Parents Helping Their Children Learn to Read

Early literacy programs at CanLearn aim to help parents understand what children need to learn to read. The better parents understand the reading process, the more they want to be involved in their children’s early literacy development. Parent involvement can be vital to a child’s success with and enjoyment of reading.

To learn to read, children need:

  • Oral Language – speaking and listening skills.
  • Phonological Awareness – hearing words and sounds in words.
  • Decoding Skills – understanding the letter-to-sound code.
  • Comprehension Skills – knowledge about the world and understanding vocabulary and context.
  • Interesting Books – books they enjoy reading.

Parents can support their children’s oral language development by:

  • Taking time to talk with their child.
  • Limiting screen time.
  • Encouraging imaginary play.
  • Sharing stories, songs, and rhymes on different topics.

Parents can support their children’s phonological awareness development by helping their children:

  • Become aware of rhyming words. (Do “cat” and “hat” rhyme?)
  • Say rhyming words. (What rhymes with “cat”?)
  • Clap or tap syllables into words. (“ti-ger” – two syllables)
  • Say short words in parts – the first sound and the rest of the word. (c-at)
  • Hear and identify all the sounds in short words. (What sounds do you hear in the word “cat”?)
  • Blend all the sounds in short words. (“c-a-t” – What word did I say?)
  • Check to see if the word makes sense.

We want parents to know that when they read with their children at home, these are some things they can do if their child gets stuck on a word:

  • Say each sound.
  • Blend the sounds and read the word.
  • Break the word apart.

We also want parents to know what children should NOT do when they are stuck on a word:

  • Look at the picture.
  • Use only the first letter.
  • Guess what the word might be.

These reading science-based strategies will support children’s decoding skills and help them set up for future reading success.

Having conversations when reading with children is a powerful way to support the development of reading comprehension skills. While reading books together, parents can:

  • Talk about the story’s content.
  • Ask the child to apply the book’s content to the world by connecting events to their own life.
  • Ask more complex questions so the child continues to build their vocabulary, language skills, and knowledge about the world.

Last but not least – parents’ most important mission is to foster the love of reading in their children. When parents pay attention to what their children are interested in and what they like to play with and talk about, they can find books that are just right for their children.

To learn more about literacy programs at CanLearn, visit our Literacy Programs page.
Nada Jerkovic
Manager, Literacy Programs