9 Ways To Improve Kids’ Reading Skills

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I’ve debated sharing this because as a writer of a parenting blog, I have this notion that people will think less of me. I have also been holding back because as my children grow, I want to shield them more and more from scrutiny that comes with having bits of their lives shared so publicly. But whether I share it or not, that fact remains: my daughter is behind in reading.

how to improve kids' reading skills - The Everyday Mom Life

Our struggles

At 6-years-old, she is one of the youngest kids in her first-grade class. With a birthday of July 26, a lot of the kids are 6 months to 1-year older than her. More and more parents seem to be holding their kids back and she’s being judged against kids who have had almost a full year more to develop. The article I wrote on school start dates and the diagnosis of ADHD recently was not on accident or just the study-du-jour. I actually stumbled across the study when looking for answers.

Before this year, I would have never considered holding her back a year for developmental and maturity purposes.  After all, my birthday is July 19 and I did just fine in school growing up with the exception of ALSO being behind in reading in first grade. I went to summer school, caught up and from that point on, I loved to read.

Changing standards

However, the reading standards were different in the 1980s than they are today. When I was in Kindergarten, we were just learning the Letter People and really worked on the sounds that each letter made. In fact, we spent a full week on each letter.

Last year in Kindergarten my daughter was already learning to read and write. She came out of school that year scrawling little notes on pieces of paper for me. I could have never done that at her age and was so impressed watching her do it. I didn’t have any inkling that she was behind.

And yet here we are. Not only is she behind, but I upped and moved her in the middle of the school year. My shy, doesn’t-like-to-talk-to-strangers-much-less-read-to-them kid is in a new school, trying to make new friends and trying to catch up. #momoftheyear

That said, I decided to share this because I know I can’t be the only mother in this situation. I know other kids must be struggling too – whether with reading or some other skill. I started this blog to share my experiences and to help other people so in sharing this, I hope I somehow can help you – even if it just makes you feel like you aren’t alone in this whole, crazy journey.

How To Improve Your Kids’ Reading Skills

how to improve kids' reading skills - The Everyday Mom Life

Talk with teachers and make a plan

More than likely, your child’s teacher will be one of the first to alert you that they’re behind in reading. Work with the teacher to map out a plan for your child and discuss what benefits your child will get from that plan.

Ask about Early Intervention

At both my daughter’s schools there has been an early intervention program. This gives them extra help during the day while at school. At our old school it was a small group of students working more closely with a teacher on reinforcing the reading skills. We are still waiting to be admitted here. Your child generally has to qualify for the program by being behind a certain percentage.

Read out loud to your children

Just reading with your children 20 minutes a day can increase their comprehension, vocabulary and decoding of words. It doesn’t matter if your child is pre-school, elementary school or in middle school, reading to them will increase their desire to read by themselves.

Surround your children with reading material

Giving your kids reading options at home will help. This includes books, magazines, comic books and more to temp them to read. Studies show that children with a large variety of reading materials at home score better on standardized tests.

Encourage reading in real life

Have them help you read the menu at a restaurant, ask them to read road signs or grocery store signs – encouraging the practice of reading in everyday.

Use a variety of materials to help them learn

Real books, books on tape and even computer games can be used to help your children. There are even games for the iPad that are helpful because they don’t feel like as much “work” and are fun for kids.

how to improve kids' reading skills - The Everyday Mom Life

Be excited for them

The more excited you are for them learning to reading and crossing new reading milestones, the more they will want to learn. Try to avoid getting frustrated with the process.

Get them extra help

Aside from early intervention, my daughter is in an after-school program to help her learn to read. Before moving her teacher and I discussed getting her a tutor (although her current teacher didn’t think that was necessary). Whatever your case is, don’t be afraid to get your child extra help. I DO get frustrated when working with her a lot because I just don’t have the patience so having someone else work with her on the nuances of letter sounds and phrases is more beneficial for her.

Show a passion for reading

The more they see you read, the more they will want to read. This doesn’t include reading Facebook on your phone. This is about them seeing you read a book, a magazine, a comic book or even a newspaper. If you love to read, chances are they will love to read too.

For more parenting experiences, click here and here for tips. For more kid experiences, click here.


  1. Here, early intervention is only available until age 3. My son went through the program for a speech delay and they were amazing.

  2. Wonderful article. You broke it down perfectly and included simple steps. I was lucky that my daughter began reading at an early age but I think most of that is due to her seeing my love for books and how I made our time reading together “Our Time”. It is clear how much you LOVE your daughter and that alone will help her excel. This is sure to help others with struggling readers!

  3. Two of our three kiddos had severe learning disabilities that impacted reading and comprehension. So much of what you suggested here truly does help, even if others don’t believe it! Model what you want your children to do…including reading!

  4. Yep, my kids were always surrounded by physical books when they were younger then technology grabbed their attention. My son was the one with all the library fines for late or lost books, he drank books. I still encourage them to read by popping into the library and taking photos of books to pique their interest. Lol!

  5. These are all excellent tips, especially considering how important it is to encourage reading from an early age. We make frequent trips to the library, so my kids can always find a title that captures their interest.

  6. This is great advice! We are avid readers in my house, but as a previous teacher, I know how hard it can be when a child seems to be falling behind in reading. There are so many books out there that talk about the importance of reading aloud to your children. It is probably one of the best ways to get your children ahead. Another big tip about reading aloud is don’t just make it mom’s job. Kids need their dads to read to them too. Plus it helps build such strong relationships and shows that reading isn’t just for girls.

  7. Teacher of ten plus years here and I fully agree with these tips! So important to display a love of reading from and early age and be sure to spend special time reading together as well.

  8. My son is a slow to learn reader. He still has some issues with site words, and letter recognition. He is getting better with time but he was not as fast of a reader as my daughters were.

  9. These are such great tips! I loved to read growing up but my son, not so much. My daughter is in the middle but I keep reading,
    Hoping one day she’ll love it!

  10. My daughter’s birthday is July 19th like your birthday and my oldest son is August 26 I was lucky because they were always good readers and loved reading. But my youngest son he hates reading. I’m always trying to encourage him to read. Love your tips!

  11. Some great tips!
    I do believe kids need to be encouraged to read – with technology and screen time taking over, I feel make young ones are losing these skills.

  12. I also want to add, be patient! A lot of times all of a sudden kids just start reading and “get it” even after much frustration.

  13. Love all these great tips. I love to see children reading. My youngest reads just about every day. It’s a bit harder to get my oldest to read, but I have her read often too.

  14. My daughter is in Kindergarten and is starting to read on her own. We’re struggling a bit with “sight words” so this article is perfect for my current situation. I really need to try reading aloud more versus her reading to me.

  15. These are wonderful tips. I love reading to my kid and I love books, so I have a lot of them at home. I love to surround him with a lot of reading material. It really works!

  16. I love this post and love your suggestions, but honestly, I hate the term “behind” when we’re talking about children. For sure you should be aware of your child and be involved, and I love that you mentioned early intervention because it’s so important to be on top of things and not just sit with our heads in the sand. But there is SO much variance in a child’s development. That’s one of the things they really drilled into us when I was going to school for teaching. The world does a good job of making us think that everyone else is excelling and that we need to be doing more and doing better. Basically what I’m trying to say is–I understand your reluctance to share your story! Because the world can be SO judgmental, but really, there’s more of us in the same boat as each other than we realize!

  17. We always had read aloud time every day when my kids were little. By the time they were 8 and 9 years old, they were interested in books like King Arthur and more. These are some great tips.

  18. I have a 7-year-old little boy who doesn’t get the big deal about reading. I, on the other hand, LOVE to read so he’s surrounded by books! I read to him and try to make it exciting and he likes it more as his confidence rises. Great article! Reading is so important and FUN.

  19. I can relate with the last tip so much Show a passion for reading is so important. When I was little I used to love going to see my uncle who had a massive library. I felt like I was entering a magical land every single time he will show me new books.

  20. It’s funny how when we were kids we don’t really remember learning how to read.. One day you’re just like reading from the textbook. I didn’t know that’s not the case for all the people.
    As you mentioned, making a plan and reading aloud to them sound like great ways to develop a reading habit!


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