4 Tips for Teaching Students to Read

Hello! I’m Beth, and I work at Open Tapestry as an Education Specialist. I’ll be dropping in now and then to offer some tricks of the trade that I’ve discovered as a teacher, and I’d love to hear from other teachers out there about ways to improve learning. One subject that I’ve found to be challenging to teach is reading, especially to beginning readers, so I thought I’d offer 4 useful tips that I’ve found to help with this.

Do you have a first or second grade student who is struggling to grasp the elusive skill of reading?  Have you watched helplessly as they are nearly brought to tears in frustration? Or maybe you have a student who couldn’t care less about developing the ability to read, and all they can think about is when the next recess is. In either case, whether this seven-year-old knows it or not, reading is a lifelong and very necessary skill.  From my years of experience, here are a few simple things you can do to help your students build a solid foundation in reading.

1.    Instill Confidence: Students desperately need confidence when learning to read. I am definitely an advocate of challenging students and expecting them to perform slightly above their perceived ability. However, sometimes we need to help students prove to themselves that they are capable and able before we push them. Often, emerging or struggling readers feel inadequate and incapable of the monumental task that lies before them. I have found that by first allowing a student to read books that are slightly below their reading level, I can reduce the amount of struggle a student experiences and increase their enjoyment of the story. This in turn, will foster vast amounts of confidence within students. All of a sudden they can do it! Of course we need to help students progress to more difficult texts as well, but during independent reading or even guided reading, consider first allowing students to enjoy their experience by reading at a slightly lower level than they are capable of.  I’ve collected a number of printable emergent reader booklets that you can use in this Tapestry.

2.  Choose books with phonemic  words & few words per page: You don’t want an emerging reader to attempt to “sound out” words like “are” and “the” since they do not follow the standard spelling rule. These words, along with many others, occur so frequently in children’s books that they need to be memorized before students see them for the first time on a page. There are thirty-eight high-frequency words that simply cannot be sounded out and are best to be memorized. There are other high frequency words that can be sounded out, but you don’t want your student to lose the flow of the story by constantly sounding out a high frequency word. Ideally, these should be memorized as well. Visit this Tapestry  to see lists of high frequency words that are better off memorized.

3.    Use activities and games to teach high-frequency words:  It is important that students see reading as a positive experience if we want to create lifelong readers. There are thousands of free resources available to you that not only enhance learning and memorization, but are also fun and enjoyable for students. See this Tapestry for activities and games that help students learn high frequency words.

4. Enjoy it: Most importantly, have fun with your students and remember that our goal, as teachers, is to create lifelong readers.  We want students to enjoy the journey and feel fully confident later in life, when they are presented with challenging and extraordinary literature. Helping your students to fall in love with Hop on Pop and I Can See is only the beginning.

Do you have any helpful ideas to help students learn to read? Do you use technology or open educational resources in your teaching? Please, share your ideas!


Image by Phaitoon from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 thoughts on “4 Tips for Teaching Students to Read

  1. I use flash cards with my daughter who was finding it had to remember the sounds corresponding to each letter. We later joined the flash cards to make words and she does whole sentences. It is a fixed time commitment, around half an hour daily. We do not treat it like play, because when we do, she stops focusing. After the half an hour she chooses a beginner level book and reads. I help her out with words she cant’ read. I use positive words to encourage her. She has shown great improvement!

    • That’s a great idea Sona! If all students had dedicated parents to help them at home, they would improve so much faster! Kudos to you:)

  2. Good morning,
    My name is Abby Herbert and I help to run a website offering hundreds of free foundation stage and key stage 1 teaching resources called Early Learning HQ (www.earlylearninghq.org.uk).

    I can see that you have been discussing high frequency words and I thought I would just take a moment to draw your attention to the literacy section of our site, where you will find numerous resources relating to this topic. I’m sure that the other teachers and parent will also find these resources useful, so I was wondering if you would consider linking to our page? You can find our high frequency word resources here: http://www.earlylearninghq. org.uk/ literacy /high-frequency-words/ .

    I hope you find the resources useful, this website has been a real labour of love to create and I am really keen to make it as accessible as possible.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Abby! Do you have any open education resources on your site? The ones I looked at appeared to be All Rights Reserved. Is there any possibility of including open resources on your site, so that teachers may freely modify and redistribute them? I would be happy to refer readers to your site if this were the case! Thanks for your work in education:)

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