Becoming a Skilled Reader

What does your child do when they’re reading and they come across a word they don’t know?  Do they look at the picture or the first letter and guess what the word might be?  Then keep reading to find out the most important tool they must have in their reading toolbox to become a skilled reader…it’s not guessing.

Children are not wired to learn to read the multitude of different spellings for the sounds in the English language.  They need EFFECTIVE literacy instruction in their early schooling years to become skilled readers.

Without the literacy instruction that research has proven to work children can struggle to learn to read.  Combine this with the “let’s give them some more time” recommendation that is suggested all too often and it’s a recipe for disaster.  It creates a child who not only struggles to read but also lacks self confidence and motivation and is at risk for lifelong social and economic difficulties.

When children are taught to read the right way they are set up for success!  They go on to become skilled and fluent readers bursting with confidence in their abilities and they have far greater learning, employment and earning opportunities.

We are fed up with children being taught to read in a way that creates struggling readers.  Teaching children to use pictures, other words in the sentence or the first letter to guess an unknown word will NOT make them a skilled reader.

What happens when they’re expected to read more challenging books? The ones with no pictures and with more complex words and sentences.  Suddenly they have no tools left and their building has a shaky foundation.

So, here’s the one tool your child must have to become a skilled reader who is able to tackle unknown words with ease.

They must be able to decode words.

This means they use the letters in the word to work out what it says.  To do this they will:

  1. Pay close attention to the sequence of letters in a word


  1. Know the letters and letter combinations and their corresponding sounds


  1. Apply the ‘rules’ such as what ‘e’ at the end of the word does to the other sounds

Sounds fairly simple right?  But did you know there are about 250 different ways to spell all the sounds in English?  Not so simple after all.  Children must be explicitly taught them…all.  They learn this complex alphabetic code we use to read through an approach called systematic phonics.  It’s a structured way of explicitly teaching children the letters and sounds that words are made of and how to blend them together to read the words.

So, if your child is struggling to learn to read you need to get help from a qualified professional who lives and breaths systematic phonics on a daily basis.  The Speech Pathologists at Talk Play Grow certainly do.  Call us on 9653 9955 or email to find out more about how we can help your child become a skilled and fluent reader.


Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more fun ways to promote learning and engage your child in their reading, literacy and communication skills.



Book Central - Where is the Green Sheep?

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

What’s it about?

This is a fun and colourful book that will have your child hooked from the start! It follows a wildly wonderful adventure in search for the green sheep. Before you find the green sheep, you and your child will be introduced to many other sheep along the way who are doing wild and wonderful things. Each page will leave you wondering when the green sheep will be found.

Our top 3 tips

1. Talk with your child about what is happening on each page.

As this book has limited print, it encourages the reader to be creative and generate their own descriptions and discussions for each page. Ask your child to describe the sheep on each page and why they have been given their name (e.g. “the bed sheep”, “the band sheep”). Your child will learn specific vocabulary related to the text and encourage their use of descriptive language.

2. Point out the different concepts and descriptors on each page (e.g. little, big, high, low, tall, short, etc.).

You can link them to real life examples to help solidify their learning (e.g. “Look this sheep is tall like a giraffe”).

3 Use the text as conversation starters (e.g. “so sheep really go swimming?”).

This will help your child extend their language by using reasoning and higher-level thinking skills.


If you found this article helpful click the share button.  One of your friends may just find it useful too!