Reading out loud in class is an effective way for your child to build essential reading skills — even though they may have reservations about being called upon to do so.
“Many times, teachers will ask students to read out loud to practice their fluency of reading,” says Kierstin Appleby, a 4th grade teacher in Iowa. Fluency is the ease and speed with which a child can read smoothly without interruption.
Students develop more than just fluency by reading out loud in class: They also build vocabulary and improve their articulation of words, and it’s great for their memory.
Appleby acknowledges that some children may “shy away” from reading out loud due to a lack of confidence or because they struggle with decoding words at the same pace as their classmates.
“However, I have also had many students in my classroom over the years who love to read aloud,” Appleby says. “Whether or not they struggle with reading, children find power behind reading words.”
If your child has difficulty reading out loud in class or is apprehensive, there’s a simple solution: Practice with them at home!
“Practicing reading at home builds comfort and confidence,” Appleby says.
Here are three more suggestions for helping your child read aloud:
Choose Fiction Books for Read-Aloud Practice
Children tend to prefer reading fiction out loud, as nonfiction texts often have more complex vocabulary that is more challenging to decode.
“Fiction texts will have more genres that children are familiar with, and can be more repetitive, which is good for confidence boosting,” Appleby says. “But really, any book your child is interested in is a win!”
(Practice reading at home with this collection of read-alouds under $5 the whole family will love.)
Look for a Mix of New and Familiar Words
Appleby also suggests helping your child choose books that showcase the right amount of new vocabulary.
“Having children preview a page in the book first can help narrow down choices,” she says. “Children can start reading and if they come across a word they don’t know or have difficulty reading, they put up a finger. If they finish the page and have four or five fingers up, the book may be too challenging.”
Two or three fingers up after the first page? You’ve found your book! One finger? It may not pose enough of a challenge, though Appleby says not to discourage your child from reading books they love just because they’re too easy.
Establish a Comfort Level With Reading
Reading is a lifelong learning process, and there will always be words your child will struggle with, even into adulthood. Appleby recommends encouraging your child to always do their best while reading and to stick with it.
Most importantly, enjoy the experience of reading to your child. Help them find joy in the books they read.
“Parents are the beginning key to fostering a love of reading — or at least establishing a comfort level with reading,” Appleby says. “Exposing children to books will help them decode words, practice them, and commit them to memory.”
Get ready for your child to go back to school with our guide — it's full of recommended books, teacher tips, homework help, advice on setting reading goals, and more resources for a successful school year.
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