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Getting To Grips With Learning To Read

Learning to read is an incredibly tricky skill to learn. So much so, that many children begin primary school with only a basic understanding of the 26 letters that form the alphabet. Don’t worry if your child isn’t able to read much more than this and their name when they begin school as many teachers actually prefer to have the whole class begin at roughly the same level. This means all the children use the same methods. 

In addition to learning the letters of the alphabet, the English language is full of many additional and rather complex combinations of letters that can baffle children as they first start out. Learning to read should be fun. It is something that your children shouldn’t just need to do, but also something they should choose to do. Helping to foster a love of books from an early age can be a great encouragement to your child when it comes to learning to read. They can be far more interested in deciphering those all-important words that give them access to the magical world of stories that you have brought them up with. All children are different and will not be able to pick up reading at the same rate as each other, but with the right encouragement, they will master it. And while they are learning to read, it is very important to keep reading to them, as this will really help.

The Alphabet And Letter Combinations

One of the big skills that are concentrated on when a child enters primary school is, of course, learning to read. Many children will be familiar with all the letters of the alphabet, being able to recite them in order and recognise them all. They might also be able to read and maybe even write their own name, but there will be some who are not yet at this stage. One of the first challenges that your child will face on their reading journey is to master the alphabet completely.

English is a very complex language, and once they have mastered the letters of the alphabet, there are a number of key letter combinations such as “th”, “sh”, “ch” that they will also need to master in order to begin learning properly. These combinations can be tricky as they already go against the letter sounds that your child has been taught. Going over the sounds of the alphabet and the letter combinations at home with your child in a relaxed environment can really help to plant them into their memory. There is a good chance that your child’s teacher will send home worksheets for them to complete at home, doing these together does not need to be a chore but rather a fun activity that you can do with your child. 

First Words

Once your child has mastered these letters and combinations, they will move on to simple words, being able to identify them and sound out the individual letters in order to form the words. Many schools provide a list of the words they are working on with your child so that you can help them to practise at home – if they don’t ask them! If your child doesn’t like learning these words out of context why not read a favourite storybook with them and get them to help when you reach some of these first words. Make story time a joining in activity that will really get your child recognising their words.

To begin with, don’t expect your child to bring reading books home from school, this will only begin to happen once they have learnt some words. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage them. Work on any words that they do bring home from school together and help them pick out words they know in their bedtime stories. Make reading as fun as you can. 


Pretty soon, your child will be sounding out lots of words and reading sentences. Phonics books are a great tool at this stage with plenty of rhyming words. Books like Cool Ducks and Lots of Hats, Bad Dog and No, Nell No are specifically designed to engage your young reader with short snappy sentences and simple words. They are also nice and short so that children do not feel overwhelmed before they have really started their reading journey. 

First Books

Before long, your child will have developed enough skills to begin reading and will have enough awareness of phonics to want to choose their own books. If they have specific interests, then they may prefer fact books over stories, and this is fine – anything that allows them to practice their new reading skills will help them to improve. It is important to help them choose their own reading material rather than giving them books to read that you think are best as this will encourage them to read more if they have more say in the matter. This will also give them a greater range of vocabulary as well as widening the subject matter that they learn. Early books should be short, with simple, easy to read sentences. Don’t worry about chapter books until your child is reading competently; this will come later. While your child is still learning, their sounds books with no pictures are a great way to start working on reading skills; talking about what is going on in the images in preparation for putting actual words to the illustrations.

A child who learns to love reading is able to travel to fantastic places, meet mystical creatures and go on amazing adventures. They will also be able to develop their imaginations. 

But don’t worry if your child is taking a little longer to learn to read than others, as they all develop at their own pace. You can encourage them by providing them with plenty of books to keep them interested. Why not contact us to see what books we have that might light that spark of interest in your budding reader. 

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