The best way to build a reader is to read aloud early and often, to surround yourselves with print, and to delight in the written word. If your child has positive memories around reading, and if your child sees you reading regularly, you are on the path to raising a reader.
That said, not all readers are confident at reading aloud. In fact, many adults will blush and stammer when asked to read aloud! Still, this is a skill that should not be overlooked in your homeschool experience. Reading aloud builds fluency, boosts comprehension, and engages critical thinking skills.
I have three children but three very different readers. Whereas my boys read aloud with reckless abandon to anyone who would listen, my daughter was reluctant. She preferred to read quietly, often to a pet or a favorite doll. We gave her the space she needed and, in time, she grew into a confident reader who will now happily read aloud.
If you have a child who is hesitant to read aloud, don't fret. There are ways to boost his or her confidence little by little. Continue doing what you are already doing, but add in these helpful tricks.
1. Hear Your Mistakes
Let your child see you stumble over text. It is important for children to understand that everyone struggles to read aloud sometimes. Make a mistake, laugh about it if you need to, and then move happily along.
2. Read Aloud in Solitude
When my daughter was learning to read, she wanted to read in solitude. At first, I worried that she wasn't actually reading aloud- but a quick listen at her door told me that she was. Some children need to practice and gain confidence alone and that is okay.
3. Read to a Younger Sibling or Child
It can be intimidating to read to an adult. I'll never forget the first time I saw my daughter read aloud to her younger brother. She did not know I was watching, and her confidence was through the roof. She read with emphasis and a smile. Another time, she read to a young child during her brothers' karate class. Each week, she would select books to read to the little girl, and every week her read alouds improved.
4. Read to a Pet
There is reason why read to pet programs are so popular! When my daughter was first starting to read, she would read to our dog. She continues to read to him daily, and it is the sweetest tradition. We always joke that he is the most well-read pooch in town. Dogs do not cast judgment or issue critiques and corrections. They love you no matter what you read, or how you read.
5. Read to a Stuffed Animal
When the thought of reading to a grown-up is just too much, why not read to a favorite doll or stuffed animal? Just as with reading to pets, there is no judgment!
6. Try Puppets
This is a trick I picked up from my counseling days. Sometimes it is easier to say things when you are not technically the one saying them. Why not let a favorite puppet read the book aloud? It might make mistakes a bit easier.
7. Read Aloud While Mom is Occupied
Sometimes it is the eye contact that bothers young readers. It is often easier to read aloud while mom is driving, cooking dinner, or engaged in some other task. Your child will feel less on the spot and may open up more.
As with many parts of homeschooling, helping your child become a confident reader is a matter of practice and trial and error. Sometimes things that were working for weeks suddenly stop working, so try a variety of techniques to see what is most effective for your children.
About the Author
Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies.