First of all, if you are reading with your kids, you are already avoiding a huge mistake, which is expecting them to only read on their own. So, bravo!
If you are taking the time to read with your kids, however, avoiding these mistakes will help them become better readers more quickly:
1. Telling your kids the words
It is so easy, when your child reads a word wrong, to just tell her the word so that you can continue with the story. However, doing this will ensure that the next time she stumbles on a tough word, she won’t try to figure it out, because she’ll know that you will do it for her. Instead of telling her the word, then, prompt her to use different strategies to problem-solve it. Ask her what would make sense. Can she “chunk” the word, or split it up into smaller, easier to read words? What about using the pictures? Your reading ability should be the last strategy you turn to, when it becomes clear that she can’t figure out the word on her own.
2. Choosing books that are too difficult or too easy
Kids need to read just-right books. It is fine if you want to read a more difficult book to your child, as long as he understands the meaning. This can greatly aid in reading comprehension. However, if you want your child to read to you, make sure that he can read most of the words – if he struggles with over 5 words on a page, it is too difficult. Go back and choose a different book. When your child has to struggle with more than 5 words on a page, he will begin to think of reading as just that – a struggle.
3. Not discussing the book
As you read, ask your child a lot of questions. What does she predict will happen next? How does she infer the character is feeling? What was her favorite part? It is easy to skip the discussion so that you can get on with the story, but in doing so, you are missing many opportunities to help your child think about her reading. Also, when she is well-versed in discussing books with you, she’ll be that much more comfortable doing so in school.
4. Reading for less than 20 minutes
In order for your child to progress in his reading, he needs to read A LOT. Less than 20 minutes a day is just not enough time to improve his reading skills. Sure, he is reading in school as well, but his teacher is probably only listening to him read for 5-10 minutes a day at the most. The rest of the time, he is most likely reading independently, without an adult to guide him through and help him improve his skills. Make sure that you fit in at least 20 minutes of reading a day. If your child struggles to focus for that long, break it up into shorter chunks of time. But make sure to hit that 20 minute mark. And, honestly, 30 minutes is preferable.
5. Only reading fiction or non-fiction books
Making sense of fiction and non-fiction books requires different thinking skills. If you only read stories, you are missing out on helping your child understand non-fiction. If you only read non-fiction, you are losing the opportunity to explore features such as character development and plot. Read a bit of both. In addition to helping your child develop his reading skills, you will also expand his knowledge and interests.