Listening to my six year old confidently read the Bible in church or catching the grin on my ten year old’s face as he casually inserts a challenging vocabulary word into his conversation gives me a thumbs up. I am growing strong readers!
This is every homeschooling mom’s dream but is sometimes difficult to achieve. Hopefully, these 4 strategies for improving reading skills will give you and your kids a boost.
4 Strategies for Improving Reading Skills
I am sure there are other great ideas for improving reading skills, but these are what I have learned in our homeschool experience.
- A strong reading curriculum
- Set time aside for silent reading
- Provide a variety of engaging reading material
- Summer reading is a must
A Strong Homeschool Reading Curriculum from the Start
The choices for strong homeschool reading curriculum are endless. We use Christian Light Education and I feel it has given my kids a great foundation.
Teaching your child to read does not have to be expensive. The market is flooded with homeschool reading curriculum and it is easy to get sucked into brightly colored flashcards and additional teaching aids. Keep in mind that most of these aids you will only use for a short time. I have found that my money is better spent on good quality books.
No matter which homeschool reading curriculum you choose, practice and saturation are key. Providing your child with reading opportunities throughout the day in the forms of books, games, and activities is grounds for a successful reading experience. I am going to add more about this at the end.
Importance of Silent Reading
My second idea of the 4 strategies for improving reading skills is the importance of silent reading.
I insist on a quiet time every afternoon while the little boys nap. Quiet time gives me a much needed break in the middle of the day. This makes me a more patient mom while encouraging more individual reading practice for the older boys.
My goal is to encourage a love for reading. It is hard to love reading when you are worried about pronunciation, inflection, correct pauses, and speed. It is when you are alone with a book that the pressure is off and you can be transported to another place and time.
During quiet time, the boys are allowed to read whatever they choose (within reason!) which eliminates most of the protesting.
My Favorite of the Strategies to Improve Reading Skills: Provide Good Reading Materials Which They Enjoy
I have a mild obsession with children’s books and this brings me to my favorite of the strategies for improving reading skills- provide good reading material which they enjoy!
No one likes to read boring books. By providing them with material that interests them it keeps them engaged and reading is less of a chore. Caleb enjoys fact books especially National Geographics. Rebekah loved anything that had detailed pictures and Micah is presently all about silly stories.
Magazines are a good quiet time activity for my kids. Some of our favorites are Focus on the Family and National Geographic.
Don’t forget about audiobooks! My kids enjoy listening to books in the car or while sitting at the table coloring. While this might not improve fluency, it will increase vocabulary and imagination, and as they get older provide opportunities to evaluate context and apply it to their own lives.
A Summer Reading Program is a Must
My first major homeschooling mistake was assuming that when June came, teacher mom was off duty! I was ready to put away the pencils and crayons and think only about parks and swimming in the inflatable pool.
After a long break of sunshine and fun, I was surprised to see that Caleb was not reading as well as he had been when we ended classes. He lost A LOT over the summer and it took us over a month to get back to where he had been.
Keep those kids reading through the summer! Our library has a wonderful summer reading program, but don’t stop there. Many restaurants, book stores, and theme parks will give coupons for hours read.
Our favorite summer reading challenge is the chart I make up myself. 100 books of summer or 50 or however many I think will challenge but not overwhelm us.
I put the chart on the wall in the dining room so it is always in view and star stickers are given for each finished book. The rules are relaxed. Most books count, the exception being that they are far below reading level (and they do try to sneak those in!). Stickers are given for books we read together as a family as well as those the big kids read to the littles.
Our prize is a trip to an amusement park once our goal has been reached.
Update: This year I made a coloring chart for each kid instead of stickers. It has been a big hit.
Why We Love Christian Light Education Reading Program
I wanted to give a few more details about our homeschool reading curriculum for those of you who are searching for a good one. This is a short list of some of the reasons we love Christian Light Education’s reading program covering kindergarten through high school.
- Phonetic style learning to read
- Sight words
- Steady review of phonetic rules through third grade
- Character building and engaging stories we all enjoy
- Literary techniques
- Greek and Latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots.
- How to evaluate and analyze what you read as well as compare writing styles.
- Lining up what you read with the Bible
- Bible verses accompany each story with explanations and encouragement to apply them to their lives
The learning to read program begins in first grade. We use it in kindergarten as the trend to learn to read begins early in the public schools and all of my kids have been ready for this at 5 years old.
Christian Light Education is a phonetic based curriculum with sight words added daily. It provides plenty of review in the form of workbooks, flashcards, and readers.
The first grade reading program has two parts. First, the learning to read program consists of ten lightunits (workbooks) and teachers guides. I believe kindergarteners should spend more time playing than sitting at a desk so we only work through these ten books along with their supplementary readers.
The second half of Christian Light Education’s first grade reading consists of a reader titled “I Wonder” and five lightunits. It has wonderful stories with fun titles such as “Who’s afraid of funder?” We go through that reader in our first grade. This provides plenty of reading without sacrificing much needed playtime.
The “I Wonder” lightunits review phonetic concepts and introduce a few literary techniques as well as comprehension questions, story verses, and scanning practice. It is the perfect strategy for improving and building on reading skills.
Strategies for Improving Reading Skills
Truthfully, I find the whole reading process fascinating and watching the minds of young readers grow and change is a beautiful example of how we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. (Psalm 139:14 NKJV)
From learning the alphabet to analyzing information, the reading process never stops. These strategies for improving reading skills are simply the most basic and helpful that I can think of, especially for the elementary level.
What strategies would you add to this list? I would love for you to put them in the comments below. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve our homeschool routine!
Poetry is a great way to encourage reading! Click image to check out these cute coloring pages!
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