By Cindy McKinley

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If you’re like most parents, you think a lot, even worry, about your child’s education. As a teacher, I think the best advice for parents who want to help their kids succeed in early education (and beyond) is to encourage a love of reading. Nearly every subject in school involves reading. Most jobs do, as well, too! Therefor, being a good reader in today’s society is vital. Being a good reader is less about “sounding good” while reading aloud, and more about understanding, connection to and finding joy in what we read.

With that being said, here are 10 ways to help you nurture a good reader:

  1. Show you value reading in your household.
    Consider having DEAR Time (Drop Everything and Read!). Pick a time that works for your family (after dinner or right before bed, for example) where everyone drops everything and picks up a book. Chances are, DEAR time will soon become something the whole family looks forward to being actively involved in every day.
  2. Encourage reading aloud.
    Being a good reader is not just about how your child sounds reading out aloud. However, reading fluently (and with expression) does help with comprehension. Encourage you child to read out loud to family members, or even to a pet or favorite stuffed animal!
  3. Don’t worry about what kids read.
    It is not uncommon to have parents become frustrated with the fact their child chooses to only read one particular type of literature, over and over again. Eventually, they will open up!
  4. Be a good role model.
    Lead by example. If your kids see you reading, both for information and for pleasure, they are more likely to read, themselves. However, many children still like the time to be read to. This is where modeling good fluency and reading with expression can come in to play.
  5. Make sure your child is reading the right books.
    A good measure to help determine the right comprehension level of reading for your child is referred to as the Rule of Thumb. To do this, have your child pick a random page in the book to read aloud. If they come to a word that they do not know, have them put their pinky down on the word. Have them continue reading, placing another finger down each time they come to a word they do not know. If they get to their thumb before the end of the page (indicating five tough words), then comprehension level is too advanced for them.
  6. Make sure that your child gets off to a good start.
    Over time, your child will begin to explore attempts to read longer, more in-depth narratives. One great way to help to your child transition in to reading longer story form is to being reading the book together by implementing paired reading, or simply, “buddy reading”. With buddy reading, parents should take turns with their children, going back and forth with reading a chapter at a time. If parents can lay this foundation, it can make the child commit to longer readings, help them stay focused and comprehend a larger body of text.
  7. Make sure your child understands and connects with what they read.
    At least, occasionally, sit down and read together. When it’s your turn, talk about what you are thinking while you are reading. Good readers have ongoing conversations with the text they are reading, even if done silently. They read, questions, connect, and predict. Model your conversation with the text and chances are that your child will, too.
  8. Help your child get ready to read tough stuff.
    Older elementary kids get exposed to more informational reading. For some kids, this can be tougher to comprehend. Show your child how to look over a section of text or an article and make predictions about what he might they might read about. Help them to understand exactly what they need to learn from it before even beginning.
  9. Understand the relationship between reading and writing.
    The more that kids read, the better they will become at reading. The same is true with writing, and just about anything else we apply practice to. Writing also helps kids to become better readers!
  10. Implement activities for after reading.
    By having them engaged in activity following to completion of their reading, this allows for them to have fun it. Some ways to implement this may be to make up a play, for example, to show that they understand what happened in the book. Another example can be to write a letter, as one character to another, or even make a diorama of a favorite scene. Or, they can even make a mobile, incorporating major story elements. The ideas are endless!

Helping your child learn to love reading—and to be a good reader—might be the best to positively impact their education!

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Cindy McKinley is the author of 365 Teacher Secrets for Success: Fun Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Elementary School. For more information, go to