1. Reading is more effective when the learning experience is progressive, explicit — in that the child is aware that he or she is learning how to read, and systematic. It takes time to learn to read and a simple early reader can take a while to get through. Make sure you set aside enough time so that your child does not feel rushed.
2. Early readers use a combination of sight words and blending. As your child starts out it can be helpful to refresh the sight words before starting to read the story.
3. Independent reading is the aim, but your child may need help learning how to blend or sound out words. Wherever possible allow your child to make the sounds by themselves or join in as you go. Always allow space so that a child can jump in if they know the answer.
For example: Cat is made of 3 sounds: /c/ /a/ /t/. Say “Look at the first letter, what sound is that? /c/, that’s right, /c/ ..and then? /a/, /a/ …. /c/../a/ /ca/../ca/…What’s the last letter? /t/. That’s right! Now let’s put it together /c/…/a/… /ca/…./ca/ .. [point to the T] /t/. /ca/../t/ … Cat! Yes, that’s right, well done!”
4. Be relaxed and encouraging. Your child will make mistakes. Mistakes are an essential part of the learning process. Gently point out they’ve made an error and encourage your child to try again, and give them a hint to help them along. For example: “Oops! No, that’s not quite right, shall we try that again? Shall we sound it out?”
5. If your child mixes up letters like m and n, p and b, d and q, u and n, f and t (which is very common) you can help them improve their recognition by focusing on each letter independently using the “Monster Hunt” technique. Reinforce this by practicing writing the letter and playing games such as I Spy. Once your child knows this letter (letter recognition, letter-sound, and writing), move to the next one.
6. Once your child has successfully read an early reader with you, invite them to read the book on their own and come back to you if they have questions or find a word difficult. Let them have some time by themselves with the book, and ideally pick up a book yourself while your child is reading the book, if you can. After some time, ask your child: “Would you read a book to me tonight?” Kids learn by example and love to feel that they are acting grown up!
7. Recognize your child’s milestones by inviting them to occasionally read early readers that they have mastered to grandparents, other relations, or younger siblings. This also works well on video calls with relatives not living close by for example.