Posted by: nancycurteman | May 28, 2010

9 Steps That Will Dramatically Improve Your Child’s Reading Level

Fact: Children learn to read by reading.

Fact: If a child has problems reading, it will be apparent in first grade.

Fact: A child who is having difficulty with reading needs to read orally even more than a child who is on grade level. Sh/e does not need more workbook or worksheet assignments. S/he needs to read aloud everyday. Not just a sentence. Not just a paragraph. Not just a page. S/he needs to read aloud entire stories that are written at h/is grade level.

Here are 9 steps to dramatically improve your child’s reading level:

  1. Ask the classroom teacher to send your child’s reading text home everyday or to send a copy of the text to keep at home. A parent could also purchase the reading text from the publisher.
  2. Ask the classroom teacher to keep you informed of the stories that are being read in class each week.
  3. Everyday, sit down with your child and read. Follow steps 4-8.
  4. Read the story aloud together with your child. Stop every few sentences and ask your child to read the next word. This will ensure that your child is actually reading with you and not just dragging along behind.
  5. Next, you and your child will read the story again taking turns. You read a page then your child reads a page. If your child doesn’t know a word, just tell h/er the word. Leave the teaching to the teacher.
  6. Next, you and your child will again read every other page except you change pages so you are reading the pages your child read and your child is reading the pages you read. If your child doesn’t know a word, just tell h/er the word.
  7. Finally, your child reads the entire story alone. If your child doesn’t know a word, just tell h/er the word. Believe me s/he won’t miss many at this stage.
  8. Here is the most important part of the session. Laugh uproariously at the funny parts of the story-even if you don’t think they’re funny. Tell your child you love the story because it’s exciting, funny, sad, scary, has a surprise ending—you figure it out. The point is to make your child believe you are loving reading that story with h/er.
  9. If your child balks, say things like: After we finish we can go to the park, bake cookies, go out and play—again, you figure it out. The key word is “After.”

Do these things and your child will become a fine reader. It’s hard work for you, but we’re talking about a child’s future here. Do it!



  1. Excellent advice, Nancy.

    I loved reading from a very early age . . . my love of the written word made the rest of my life more interesting and enjoyable.


  2. It’s so important to read with children! Thanks for sharing.


  3. Honestly the first part I agree with…I agree that struggling readers need more reading aloud to others and with others…not more worksheets to practice so I am against special classes that have easy worksheets etc. with small reading passages. They are missing out on major needed reading practice. However I disagree about a parent just blurting out the word if a child does not know it. The key is to ask the child to sound out the word and parent gives help as needed for example: The child struggles to read “same” and sounds it out as “sam” the child understand that when two vowels go walkin the first one does the talkin or that help e makes the a say its name. And help the child sound it out again if he or she needs help. And after the child gets it go back to the begining of the sentence or paragraph or where ever you thonk is neccessary and read it again. I have noticed that many children progress much faster that way because if they just read word for word without going back to read over when they mess up or they have to stop they can easily loose train of though about what the passage or story is about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Frances, Thank you for your helpful comments. Sounds like you have some expertise in this area. Often parents do not have the same level of expertise particularly as relates to teaching phonics. If they do then that’s great.


  4. […] Read the rest of her blog post here. […]


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