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How To Teach a Child To Read Silently: A Step-By-Step Guide

Silent reading is a skill that promotes comprehension and fluency. It is something that kids learn over time and at different paces.

The better they become at reading, the less reliant they are at sounding out the words with their mouths. That is why knowing how to teach a child to read silently is important if you are a parent or guardian. Choosing a program, such as Reading Head Start, to help your child read without any pressure is also vital.

You can help your child progress at a faster rate with the right approach. But before we discuss the most effective ways to teach silent reading, let us look at its benefits in detail.

Why Is Silent Reading Important?

When kids start to read, they vocalize each letter into syllables and string them together to form the words. It is an effective method that works well until maybe the first or second grade.

So why is there a need to change things up for a child’s reading fluency to progress? Below are some of the most compelling reasons, according to experts.

Improves Comprehension

Reading silently allows your child to focus on the text and not on the pronunciation of each word. Doing this makes it easier for them to understand the topic since they are not distracted or delayed by phonics.

By paying more attention to the material, your child can read groups of words instantly. It is more effective than reading one word at a time and sounding out every syllable.

It also encourages the reader to create a mental picture of the subject discussed, promoting faster comprehension. All of these actions help your kid pay more attention to the meaning of the words rather than knowing how to read them.

If you encourage a child to read silently, you are helping them develop strategies to understand the text better. They can focus on understanding the content and reading with a purpose if you take away the burden of pronunciation.

Faster Reading

Beginner readers sound out each word with their mouths, which can be time-consuming. What is more, it can be distracting to other kids and even to the one reading the text.

As a result, they often take longer to finish reading, while in some cases, they might even have to backtrack to get the meaning.

Silent reading is ideal for instant recognition of the words without the need to sound them out. Since your child can read faster, they can read the words in groups. It significantly reduces the time needed to finish a page.

The text also makes better sense since your child can focus on the content words and not the function words. Using this strategy, they can go through more reading materials for the same amount of time.

That means more opportunities for them to practice reading, which makes it easier for your child to progress faster.

Less Distracting in the Classroom

In a classroom setting, multiple students try to learn simultaneously. There will be times that reading out loud can be distracting. It means that kids would need to read to themselves sometimes not to distract their classmates.

Another instance when silent reading is necessary is when standardized tests are being given. During these examinations, students need to read the passages quietly.

By teaching your child to read silently even before they start taking exams, you are giving them a head start.

Learning To Read in Different Settings

As children get used to reading in silence, they become more open to all forms of reading materials. They can include anything from children’s books to online materials, either fiction or nonfiction.

Another advantage of silent reading is that kids can focus more and are less likely to get distracted. They can read while sitting, standing in a corner, or any other place that they can find.

Since they have developed a technique to read faster and understand the text better, they find more satisfaction in reading.

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How To Teach a Child To Read Silently

Some kids struggle more than others when it comes to reading silently. 

Do you feel that your child is having trouble outgrowing vocalization or even subvocalization when reading? If so, you might have to step in. Below are some tips on how to teach a child to read silently.

Start Small

First of all, it is important to be patient when teaching a child to read in silence. Transitioning between vocalization and silent reading is harder for a child than you might think, so take things slowly at first.

One way for you to do this is by starting small. You can make a game out of it by using flashcards containing words or phrases. Show your child each card and tell them not to say what the word is.

Next, turn the card over and ask your child what word or phrase was on the card. As your child becomes more comfortable doing this, you can move on to longer materials like books.

Make sure that you increase the number of words incrementally, depending on how your child is progressing. If they need to re-read the material, let them do so.

Using a conservative approach will help ensure that your child does not get overwhelmed while practicing to read silently.

Whisper or Mouth the Words

Another way to help your child transition from vocalization to silent reading is by asking them to whisper the words. Tell them to make their voice softer over time until they are just mouthing the words. From there, it will be easier for your child to read the words with their minds.

This approach will help your child develop their inner reading voice. With more practice, this voice will become less distracting until silent reading becomes second nature to them.

Another way to do this is by using a whisper phone. It is a device that amplifies your child’s voice, allowing them to hear it without distracting others. 

Encourage Silent Reading in Different Locations

Once your child gains confidence in silent reading, you can let them practice in different locations and situations. You can even encourage them to read while there are also other kids reading silently.

Doing this will help them realize that it is a normal activity that offers many benefits.

If possible, bring your child to places where they know that they have to be quiet. A good example is a library or even a church. Your child will be more aware and mindful of their voice in these situations. 

It will help make silent reading come naturally to your child.

Just make sure that there is no ongoing service, so you do not cause a distraction. You can ask your child to read a few minutes before while you are waiting for the service to start.

Use Complex Reading Materials

If you feel that your child is progressing, take things up a notch by giving your child more complex reading materials. Just make sure that it has the appropriate level of complexity that will motivate your child, not discourage or bore them.

There are several ways for you to determine this. You can look at how difficult the words are, how frequently they are used, and the length of the sentences. You can also try evaluating material’s purpose, the text structure, and the language clarity.

With the right amount of complexity, your child will have to focus more on the reading material. They might even have to re-read some parts of the text, which is perfectly fine if you want them to practice.

The key is not to use reading materials that are too easy, which won’t compel your child to improve.

Lead by Example

One way to reinforce the behavior of silent reading is by modeling it to your child. You can read a book quietly together and talk about it afterward. You can also read your own book quietly as long as you are right there where your child can see you.

If your child sees you doing it, they will think that this is the normal thing to do. It will also give you a chance to bond, as you are sharing a unique experience.

Consider Reading Head Start

Reading Head Start is a program or approach designed by an experienced teacher that can help children as young as two years old to read. It teaches both the child and the parent or guardian proven strategies on how to read silently and quickly. This way, your child will be two or more years more advanced than their peers of the same age in terms of reading.

Understanding the Importance of Silent Reading

Some kids start to read silently sooner than others, but this is not important. The key is to pay attention to your child and see how they react to silent reading. From there, you can come up with the best way to help your child. You may also seek the help of programs, such as Reading Head Start, that were successful in helping children read more advanced than their age.

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