Episode 16: My Opinion about What You Can do to Help Your Child with Their Reading Skills

I have noticed that this topic about reading is getting a lot of interest from readers and viewers and I am suspecting that this is because a lot of parents have children who are struggling with reading or are finding the reading process to not be as swift.

As a speech therapist with a special interest in literacy, I understand this struggle as I know that if reading is taught by someone who does not understand the building blocks, reading can become like a maze. So here are my four sure tips that can help any child become a better reader:-

1. Phoneme segmentation- This refers to pulling apart sounds in words. As you are reading with your child, or your child is reading to you, you need to reinforce sounding out of words. If your child is stuck on an unfamiliar word, encourage them to sound out that word. There are correct and incorrect ways of sounding out. So if your child, encounters an unfamiliar word, don’t tell them the word, instead encourage them to sound it out.

2. Phoneme blending- This is when they put together sounds. If your child has read/ pulled apart the word “d-o-g”, they should blend the word correctly as, “dog”. And if the child is a little bit advanced in their reading, you should do the same with the complex words they encounter. Encourage them to sound out/ pull apart unfamiliar words and then to blend these words together. 

3.  Appropriate punctuation – Punctuation is important for maintaining the integrity of the words and sentences being read out and for preserving meaning. Punctuating word and sentences preserves their meaning and enables comprehension.  So, teach your child to put their commas, exclamations, questions and full stops when they are reading to you and when you are reading to them. And when its your turn to read to them, ensure that you indicate with your pronunciations the commas, full stops, questions etc.

4. Proper use of context- Proper use of context enables your child to work out the meaning of unfamiliar words and also prepares them to be little investigators that they need to be when they are comprehending texts. I say to my children that reading is about putting on the hat of an investigator. What I mean when I say this is that when you or your child for that matter is reading, you or they are piercing together the clues the author has given you and it is on you or they to comprehend what the author has written..


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Final word

As a parent or reading partner your role is to help your child figure out things on their own. Your role is to help them acquire appropriate word attack skills i.e. pull apart unfamiliar words, put them together, punctuate appropriately as well as as use context to understand words that are not limiting or unfamiliar. 


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Hi, I'm your teacher

Lorna Muthamia-Ochido

I run a family-centred speech-language therapy clinic, the largest in East and Central Africa. I’ve helped 15,000+ children optimise their communication outcomes (in other words, I make children smarter ☺).

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