How to Teach a 7 Year-Old to Read


Reading is one of the most valuable skills for a child to learn. I remember learning how to put together consonants and vowels with my mother, and it was her instruction that made me the reader I am today. I have spent a lot of time studying how to teach this myself, and I’d like to share it with you here. 

There are many effective methods on how to teach your seven-year-old how to read. Some of these methods include: 

  • Setting an example for your children
  • Reading to your children
  • Incorporate letters
  • Promote writing
  • Have conversations with your children
  • Have your child tell and read you stories

As said before, there are many wonderful ways that we as parents and teachers can teach our seven-year-olds how to read. After conducting some research, I have found the most effective ways that we can teach a seven-year-old how to read. 

Where to begin

The age of seven is a very unique age where developmental skills in reading are rapidly being established, this is the age where it counts the most, for after they have their foundation of reading they will be able to read everyday things such as road signs, song lyrics, and more harder and in-depth books as their reading level increases. 

It is extremely important to nurture this skill in your seven-year-old because this is a skill they will need and use throughout the entirety of their lives. The skill of reading, especially at this age, is not to be underappreciated. 

Whether you are a parent or an educator within a classroom setting, we are all teachers. While much work is to be put in during classroom hours, parents contribute an equally if not greater impact on how a child develops the skills to read. Let’s start by focussing on ourselves. 

Be an Example

You can begin setting an example for your seven-year-old by being a reader yourself. It is important that you as an individual take the time to read and engage your mind so that you can best teach your child the very skill you enjoy using on a daily basis.

If you don’t have one already, develop a habit of reading, you can only benefit from it and you will find yourself just as intrigued and learning as much as your child. Whether you enjoy reading the daily paper, a good novel or skimming the pages of a magazine, children are very aware of what is going on around them, including you reading.

Children often want to be just like their parents and as a result, incorporate their parent’s mannerisms into their lives. By reading frequently and enjoying this leisurely activity, your child will want to participate too. With desire, anything is possible.

Incorporate Letters and Words Into Your Child’s Environment

When decorating your babie’s nursery, you will often find easy simple words that become a staple for decorating. Your child’s name may be spelt above their crib, the books you plan to read to them are tidly stacked into a nearby bookshelf. Toys, books, clothes, diapers, and other necessities are carefully labled with colorful letters and organizers. Right from infancy our babie’s are surounded by words which they will grow to understand. Again, by emmersion. 

As your child begins to grow, incorporate their language into their activity. Fisher price and other companies have many toys that implement words and reading into every age level. For seven-year-olds a great device to use that is extremely fun is to have magnetic letters on your refrigerator. Using these letters, your child(ren) can create words, sentences, even stories! They can create games from these to create as many words as they can, create rhymes, and more. Having this as an option of entertainment for your child will be very beneficial. 

As a parent, you may even find yourself having fun at the refrigerator. You can create to-do lists for your children, leave encouraging messages, or motivational quotes to push your little one on. A personal favorite brand of magnetic letters are these

Read to Your Seven-Year-Old

I often remember my own mother and father reading to me at my bedside before I went to sleep. I would lean into my parents, staring intently at my book, following the shapes of words they were reading from, slowly beginning over time to read the newly learned words in unison with them. 

By reading to our children we involve them with the very words we are reading to them. When we speak to them, they understand what we say by implication and reasoning. When reading to our children they have the opportunity to be involved. Just like me, they can follow along with you as you read. They can have the personal satisfaction of piecing together words and learning them first-hand for themselves. 

It is also important when reading to your children to ask them questions and to also encourage them to ask you questions. You can help each other learn; for example, asking your child questions about what you are reading causes them to engage themselves in looking more closely at the text and offers them a challenge and the satisfaction of answering.

Being open and friendly about your child asking questions is extremely important. Personally, I remember constantly asking what certain words were that seemed foreign to me and what they meant. In answering these questions we are able to extend their vocabulary and help them increase their reading level in doing such.

From personal experience, another method that is extremely impactful to an adolescent’s reading skill is to read as a family or group.  Growing up in a religious setting my family would read scriptures every night. If you’ve ever read any religious text you can know that the wording can be a bit strenuous at times, especially for beginning readers. Reading religious canon or other high reading level literature such as Austen, Steinbeck, and even Shakespeare is extremely beneficial for learning readers.

It is proven that the best way to learn a new language is by emmersion, this goes for beginning native speakers as well. By immersing young readers into the language of high-level literature, we open a world of opportunities and a sense of higher learning that will give them a kick start and advantage in the early reading world.

Involve your child in this, let them read and help them along. In doing this not only will their vocabulary increase but also their reading speed and intelligence level. This family habit can have astronomically positive effects for your young reader and open many doors for them.

Encourage Writing

As your child continues to grow their reading skills, the capacity for them to gain other skills will expand. To be a great writer you must read. I believe the same goes for the opposite, if you are to be a great reader, you must write. 

In the third grade I began to develop my passion for writing. I remember writing the most outlandish and imaginitive things you would expect a child to write. I enjoyed the freedom and creativity I had, to craft stories with the words I learned from others. From learning to read I could learn to write and by writing I could develop my reading skills.

By encouraging your child to write there are many outcomes. One of the most effective is that your child will begin to realize the vast amount of words that their language has to offer. They will want to describe something in their writing but do not have the proper words, this introduces them to the concept of synonyms! By looking at similar words they will learn more words and will increase their capacity not only with their vocabulary but with their capacity to learn. 

Have Your Child Tell You Stories

This is a concept that is not much thought of but is very entertaining, fun, and beneficial for both you and your seven-year-old. Have your child tell you stories! By letting your child’s imagination run wild you open a door to great possibilities.

You can help add on to the stories. By doing this you can help your child learn different situations and language used in those specific circumstances. This can help them learn about tone.

Help them to learn words that they may be struggling to grasp in order to make the story better. In this case you could also better help them learn descriptive words for nouns (people, places, or things)!

By giving your child the opportunity to turn the tables and tell you a story, both their confidence and skills will increase. 

Have Conversations with Your Children

Going along with the previous method, having conversations with your child(ren) is extremely important. Your conversations can be about anything from baking a treat to what they learned in school that day. Ask them what they learned, what they did at recess and vice-versa what you accomplished that day.

By having these conversations you open their mind to different word choice and descriptives. You will be able to see your childs vocabulary grow as they think of words to create a conversation with you. 

As your child has more conversations they will realize that conversations are different with equally different people. The language used between you and your child may be different between your child and their grandparent. With each new generation the is different slang. By having the opportunity to have conversations with many differnt types of people from different backgrounds they will become well rounded in the many different forms their language can take. 

Other Methods

Enroll your child into a summer reading program

Throughout my elementary school years my mother would enroll my brother and I into our town’s summer reading program hosted at the library. I remember how excited I was to read as many books as I could in order to fill my list and get to my summer reading goal. I would also win a super cool prize if I could read a book a week! 

By having your child participate in a reading program, it encourages them to read and to have fun with it. You will slowly see them ascending with the level of books they read as their language and vocabulary gradually grows.

Being in a program like this also helps your child(ren) interact with other children their age. Being with their peers can help your seven-year-old develop social skills and also learn how language is used around their own age group. 

Use your resources

When your child is learning to read having the opportunity to read whenever possible is always a plus. When watching media, turn your subtitles on! While this may be a distraction to some, it offers your-seven year old the opportunity to practice their reading skills and speed of reading. By doing they can again have the opportunity to learn language and tone used in different situations and circumstances. 

Have a dictionary available to your child

When supplying your home with books (a very wonderful and thrilling thing to do) make sure you have the most essential book, a dictionary. Before technology made it’s grand debut to my generation I would excitedly flip through the pages of my musty smelling dictionary. My heart leaped at the untapped fountain of words in front of me. I found I had a thirst to learn as many words as I can and to use them to my advantage.

Having a dictionary available to your seven-year-old gives them access to the very same fountain I had, equally untapped. They can spend hours roaming the pages, finding new and interesting words to describe and create! Having this availibility to your child is an advantageous building block in your child’s life, 

Another reason to have a dictionary available to your child is that, if you do not know a word, your brain will assign a definition regardless of if it is correct or not. To go more in depth with this, the human brain is very interesting in that it always needs to have a meaning go with a word, so our brains will always automatically assign things with a meaning whether we know the definition or not.

For example, your seven-year-old may see the word dog and know exactly what it means, then they may see the word hog and not know what it means. Despite not knowing what the word hog means your brain will make a connection in order to assign it a meaning. So while your seven-year-old knows what a dog is, hog sounds like dog so they will assume that hog is a type of dog. Having a dictionary available can help your seven-year-old learn the proper definitions rather than having their brain assume an incorrect definition. 

Benefits

By implementing all of these methods into teaching your child you will find that your seven-year-old will be able to learn the skill of not only reading but how to learn in every circumstance given to them. 

With these methods, your child will have the opportunity to grow their reading skills at a fast pace and find themselves above the average level of their peers. With the opportunity of increased reading skill at a young age, many more opportunities can be found such as in the subjects of speech, writing, and even learning another language.

Speech

Through reading, your seven-year-old may discover that they have taken a liking to speech and talking out loud a lot. This can lead to the skills of presentation and narration. They may enjoy speaking in equal eloquence to that of what they read.

Writing

When reading, your seven-year-old may decide that they too want to create material for others like themselves to read. As stated before in order to be an excellent writer, one must be an adament reader.

Learning another language

Reading can very-well open the gateway to learning a different language. By beginning to master one language it can sometimes be an advantage to learn a different language and the rules applied to that language to better understand our own native tongue. 

Much like practicing an instrument or rerunning plays in a sport, consistent reading nurtures and perfects our literary skills.

 Just like Olympians or successful sports players, if your child has a passion, have them run with it. Passions turn into beneficial long-term skills.

What if my Seven-Year-Old Does not Like to Read?

I’m sure we can all recall and may even still be experiencing the misery of being “forced” to read a book we don’t want to. Whether in high school or college, we have all been made to read books that we did not want to. This is one of the most negative and unappealing feelings in the world, so it is understandable that your seven-year-old may be feeling the same thing. No one, including your child enjoys feeling the pressure of a seeming deadline and unwanted necessity. 

The ages of six through eight are the most crucial times for a young reader. It is when they begin to truly develop their reading skills and make the great leap into comprehension and deeper learning. But with so much pressure around this concept, your seven-year-old make quickly lose the desire and interest to read. How can you, as a parent, guardian, and/or teacher approach and solve this problem? There are a few ways.

  1. Try things from a different angle

If you are finding that your seven-year-old suddenly lacks or has no motivation to continue or even start reading, try approaching the situation from a different angle than the present. We all know that each individual has their own personal “strong suit”, some are math people others are English, or science, or even history. Perhaps the reason your seven-year-old has ceased reading is because they are bored about what they are reading. Inquire to your child about their interests and then, find genres and topics of book that are written about their interests. As a result, your child will be learning about something they love and nurturing their skill to read. 

If your child is a mathematics person, go to your local library or bookstore and find books on numbers. If they prefer a scientific approach, there are many books about astronomy, geology, biology, chemistry, and much more that would spark the interest of many. With history, there are many things to be found. I personally remember and still presently prefer historical fiction as my reading preference. While reading is, in fact, English, there are things more in-depth you could find such as language, and poetry, rhymes, and short stories. There is something for every reader, even the most dormant.

      2. Teach your child about the concept of desire.

Your seven-year-old may not be reading because they, as said before, are lacking desire. One of the most powerful things in this world is the power to be better, and in extent, the desire to learn. School itself has created such a negative stigma around it that it clouds the actual greatness of learning. 

From a historical standpoint, take John Adams for example. Now I know it may seem strange to compare your seven-year-old to a former president of the united states but in a much smaller sense he was a person with a desire. 

John Adams is not only known as a former president but a scholar. As a personal visitor to John Adams’ house and library I have seen just how much President Adams desired to learn and how it was beneficial to his life. While your child is still young they have equal chance to have just the same passion of desire as Adams. It has been proven that the more we learn about something we enjoy, the more we enjoy learning, and seek it. 

If your child is not reading, turn it around into a situation they enjoy, help them learn new things and when you find information that thrills them, go on that! What we learn, no matter at what age is something will have with each of us for the rest of our lives. Knowledge is the one possession that can never be taken away.

What do I do if I See My Seven-Year-Old Struggling?

With new skills comes struggle. Your child may not be as good at reading as others, and that’s okay. It is natural to have opposition in all things, including reading. About forty percent of children struggle with reading so it is perfectly normal that your child may be too. The most important thing to do when you see your child struggling is to get them help immediately to overturn whatever troubles they are having. 

It is extremely important to get your child the help they need as soon as possible. This is because if your seven-year-old is enrolled in public or private school, after the third-grade things will start moving more quickly and getting harder with their reading skills. This will make it extremely difficult for your child to catch up with their peers and their struggle may carry on for a long while throughout their academic career, which can be detrimental. 

There are many ways and means of finding the right kind of help your child needs. Helping them may only require you to reach out to your child’s teacher to inquire for some more one on one student teacher time to help boost your child’s skill. If the struggle is more in-depth, most schools have tutoring programs. If options such as this or the like are not available you may need to search further. There are many part-time and full-time tutors that can be found online through online classrooms. Any of these options are great to help your seven-year-old get back on track.

Overall, reading is a very hard skill to perfect, and it indeed is a lifelong trek to perfection. No one is a perfect reader, but we can all continually seek to progress our skill, to attain understanding, and gain knowledge. English is a difficult language to learn as is any other native language. It must be studied, and taken to heart. As we help our child learn, we will not only see them grow, but also will have the opportunity for growth too.

Related Questions

What age should a child recognize letters and numbers? Most children being to recognize letters and numbers between the ages of three and four. This is just a general percentage, every child is different in their learning. Pre-school and Kindergarten are the key grades where these skills are established.

When should a child know their ABC’s? Most children begin recognizing letters between the ages of two and three. When it comes to knowing the entirety of the alphabet, this is not usually accomplished until between the ages of four and five. In America, this is preschool and kindergarten age, during these grades children will be familiarized with the ABC and sound similiarities with specific letters.

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