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Our 7 Golden Rules for Reading Success

by Laura Gordon || 7 November 2018

At Easyread, we have helped thousands of children learn to read confidently and accurately. The secret to our success lies in our seven golden rules. We find that if you follow these golden rules closely, your child can go from reading struggles to reading success in no time.

1. Keep reading lessons short and regular

Limit daily reading lessons to just 15 minutes in order keep reading time fun and enjoyable – both for you and your child. Short lessons also maximize a child’s limited attention span.

The secret to making these short lessons work is to keep them regular, ideally every day. When we sleep, our brains help consolidate and organize the information we learned the day before. This is called sleep dependent learning. By keeping lessons short and regular, you can tap into the power of your child’s sleeping mind.

2. Offer lots of help and affirmation!

When reading is a struggle, daily reading lessons can quickly become a source of frustration and stress. Believe it or not, all that tension can make it hard for your child to learn to read.  If you only correct your child’s mistakes, overtime he or she might learn to associate the sound of your voice with stress. And that’s the last thing you want!

The best way to end the frustration is with lots of praise.  By constantly supporting your child with genuine and positive affirmation, you can put an end to the nightly battle and build your child’s reading confidence. How much praise is enough? Your goal should be to offer 5 bits of praise for every one bit of correction. We call this the “Rule of 5”. Pepper daily reading lessons with phrases like “yes, that is it, good”,“well done”, “Yes!”, and “Good work”, and your child will be well on his or her way to big reading progress.

But really, when we do a lesson with a child we are saying something positive every 4-5 seconds. It is constant.

3. Focus on decoding practice

When it comes to reading, the best readers are also the best decoders. In literacy education, decoding is defined as ability to connect letter strings in words with the sounds, or phonemes, they represent. If you can’t decode, you can’t sound out words. If you can’t sound out words, it’s easy to get stuck and make mistakes.

Believe it or not, this single skill has the biggest impact on your child’s future success as a reader. That’s why reading lessons should focus on helping your child to develop his or her skills as a decoder.

So it is important that each child on Easyread comes to view it as a decoding gym, where they are building their decoding muscles! The more they decode, even with familiar words, the quicker that will happen.

4. Reread every phrase until it’s fluent

To get the fastest progress, it is essential that your child rereads any phrase with a tricky word. Sometimes it can take a couple of goes to get a phrase fluent.

The reason is that the first decode is a very conscious process, but the reread can be done in a relaxed way, that floats the new knowledge into the subconscious. You will find it then comes back much more easily, the next time that word appears.

Also, by getting the feel for fluent reading, your child will start to read fluently much more quickly.

5. Always focus on the letters first

When working with trainertext, it is essential that the learner is trying to decode the letters first and then using the images to help when the letters are confusing.

If they only look at the images, their familiarity with the letter patterns will develop much more slowly.

You can spot this when a child consistently reads tricky words with only three sounds, like “should” for instance, without a hesitation.

6. Fix any eye tracking difficulty

Eye tracking is a common problem that can cause children real discomfort when they read. Unfortunately, most eye doctors do not screen for this issue. For that reason, it’s important to keep an eye open for any eye tracking weakness. If your child struggles with small print, loses her place when she reads, or finds reading especially uncomfortable in the evening when tired, it could be a sign of eye tracking issues.

For a simple exercise to improve eye tracking in your child, check out our simple, free exercise to improve eye tracking. With just 10 days or simple exercises, you can help your child feel more comfortable when he reads. If this exercise does not help, a visit to a specialist will be needed.

7. Look for the Little Voice

As your child becomes more proficient at decoding, it is important that he can hear a little voice in his head when reading silently. The little voice is what allows us to construct complex meaning from words on a page.

When children do not hear a little voice, it can be much harder for them to understand what they are reading. So, if you are seeing weak comprehension and your child cannot hear a little voice as they read, we need to get that fixed.

Laura Gordon was a lecturer in English literature at the University of Maryland and editor for Public Health. She is a mother of two children and is now an Easyread System Manager for David Morgan Education, supporting children and their parents on the journey to confident reading and writing.