The faster a child can decode a word, the stronger a reader he will become. Recognizing words, using clues from the pictures and reading with fluency can make him a successful, comprehensive reader.

Here are ways to help develop these skills this summer.

Reinforce “starter” words: Below are 12 words that are considered the most commonly used in the English language. Instantly recognizing these words will give your child a head start in reading:

            the            in          of           is           it       I
            and           you         to           a           that     are

Print these words on small index cards, using lowercase letters. Practice all summer, two at a time, until she can easily recognize and say these correctly and randomly.

Teach him to reference the picture: Remind him to look at the picture before reading. In my reading groups, we always do a “picture walk” through the story before reading. If he stumbles when reading, have him reference the picture for a clue to get back on track.

Practice reading fluency: Reading fluency means smoothness, flow, and clarity of oral reading. The more fluent a child reads, the greater she comprehends. Like many things in life, this comes with practice!

Try reading with a timer. Set the timer for one minute. Have her start reading a page out loud. Be sure to start the timer when she says the first word. Have her stop reading when the timer rings, and put her finger on the last word she said. Help her count the total number of words she read in one minute. Set the timer again for one minute. Challenge her to read it one more time clearly and quickly, trying to increase the number of words before the timer rings. My students practice this as a partner game, and really enjoy it!

Fun activities such as these, combined with lots of practice this summer, can help your child become an avid, confident, and lifelong reader!