Creating Life-long Readers

As parents one has a great influence on how our children develop and learn. Helping our children to read and foster a love of reading can help them immensely in their future academic and adult life.

The best way of creating life-long readers is by reading. Children love exposure to meaningful reading and meaningful writing. Your modeling is always going to encourage and show what good readers do best. Good readers read and then re-read over and over again. The more opportunities we can create to read to, with, and write with our child the better! This is all part of creating a strong literacy foundation for our children.

Children learn to read much like they learn how to speak; it’s a multi-dimensional process. They first start recognizing letters, words, sounds, and concepts in their daily life and environment.  English is a layered language which is composed of the alphabet, patterns of words, and the meaning of the words themselves. Children need all these concepts to be taught in order to become successful readers. In my experience too often children are only taught to read phonetically, which for some children who don’t necessarily even think in terms of sounds, can cause a lot of struggle with the reading process. To master the alphabet alone a child must be able to name the letter, write the letter, and know the sounds of the letter! Meaning-making, word study, writing, spelling, and being read to, are all part of the learning-to-read-process.

Children can expand and study new words, sounds, and the alphabet simultaneously. They don’t have to focus on one thing at a time or learn things by rote. A child’s reading, writing, and spelling are interwoven and linked.  By noticing where your child’s writing abilities are, you can grasp a clue of what reading concepts they are ready to learn. Having your child write at every opportunity is one of the best ways to encourage reading skills. Labeling their pictures and drawings is a great place to start. Over time you will most likely see a progression from random marks to inventive spelling and writing.

There are specific pre-reading skills  that we as parents can help with so our children can learn to help facilitate the jump to independent reading.  Learning which way to hold a book, knowing which direction to read, wordtracking as an adult reads, being able to recognize and sort objects, pictures (and eventually words), rhyme, identify beginning word sounds, and breaking-up words into their syllables are all important pre-reading skills.

Start with what your child knows. Pretend reading and writing always come first. Often children learn the letters of their names and family members’ names first because these hold the most meaning to them. You can bring in the skills of rhyming, beginning word sounds, syllables, story-making, and letter identification from there.

If you would like to learn more I will be hosting a parents only Early Readers Workshop on February 21, 2016 from 10 am to 12pm, Upcountry in Haiku. We’ll be exploring specific age-appropriate and developmental activities to facilitate and develop reading and pre-reading skills further. For more information and to RSVP please visit The workshop is $25 per person. Space is limited. Mahalo.

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Tani Toprakci, M.Ed has been a private teacher successfully homeschooling and tutoring students worldwide for over 10 years. She has worked with over four thousand students of all ages and types, ranging from the very young all the way through university. She is an educator in every sense of the word and believes the true idea of education is instilling the skills of life-long learners. For more info go to or call (310) 922-3389.


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