Helping First Grader Learn to Read

My son is starting first grade. He is not yet what I call a reader. Is this OK? What can I do at home to help him move along faster? -- Need to Learn Answer: It is not unusual for children to enter first grade and not yet be readers. In the past, this was definitely the norm. Nevertheless, in this time of pushing the first grade curriculum down into kindergarten, many children will be taught to read in kindergarten. Find out now from his first grade teacher exactly what reading skills your child is expected to have. You could be surprised to discover that most of his classmates are not readers yet. If your child does not at present have the reading skills that he needs, find out how the teacher will help him and others like him acquire these skills. Ask if there are special programs at the school to bring him up to grade level in reading. Ask the teacher also what you can do at home to accelerate his learning to read. Of course, reading to him nightly and talking about what is read will always be something that you should do. One approach, a popular and proven one, is to help children learn to read through word family stories. Word families are basically rhyming words that are easier for children to handle than trying to sound out each letter. For example, our "an" word family story will tell about Nan who ran to a van. Go to our Dear Teacher website (, and you will find 42 print word family stories with audio and worksheets, or you can download our Skinny Books - Word Family Readers app that has the same stories plus games.