The biggest fear of parents we've worked with is that their child will never read. Has this thought crossed your mind, too? Don't worry, you're not alone!
Children learn to read at different times and in different ways. One size definitely doesn't fit all! Here are a few things that you can do in order to encourage your child to read without putting pressure on him to "sound it out!" or exclaiming "you know that word!"
1. Provide your child with a wide variety of books
Why? This will give you insight in to what interests your child. Is it fiction? Science? History? By providing your child with options, you will pique his curiosity and he may just pick up that book when you're not looking!
2. Read to your child
Reading to your child can spark his curiosity. Once a child realizes that stories are fun, exciting, and engaging, chances are he will want to read, too!
3. Turn off the TV and incorporate "family" reading time
During parent teacher conferences, I have suggested this to many parents and it has worked with great success! Whether it's once a day or once a week, model reading for enjoyment to your child. YOU sit down on the couch and read a book for pleasure. Chances are (after a few times doing this) your child will not ask you to read to him and will actually pick up a book and read to himself. As a teacher, I would implement DEAR (drop everything and read) time and I would close my computer, put the papers and chalk down, and sit on the carpet and read a book with my students. They loved it (and I did too!)
4. Model early reading behaviors
Early reading behaviors include items such as: front of the book (including the title), holding the book the right side up, where to begin reading (left-right; reading words vs. looking at pictures), the difference between letters vs. words, and punctuation. This can be as simple as sliding your finger underneath of each word as it's read. This will help your child understand how books work!
5. Don't make it about "learning to read"
Kids are perceptive! They know when we're frustrated. They know when we're trying to get them to do something. Don't make it about learning to read and adding more pressure to your child! If your child is struggling, he already knows this. Read to him and point out the things he CAN do! "I bet you can find a word you know on this page, will you read it with me?" or "I'll read first, then can you read it again with me?" Simply asking the child "What is happening on this page?" and having him look at the picture and think about the story is a great strategy to capture his attention and get him into the world of the book.