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Reading is a skill that all of us eventually learn, but we never really stop to think about just how big of a deal it is during the first years of a child’s life. It ends up being so automatic for us as we go about our normal day, but for an elementary school-aged child or even younger, reading is a task in itself. Kids are able to learn so much about the world around them through reading, and it’s why parents are urged to start reading to their children as soon as possible. Once your child gets old enough to begin reading on their own, it’s recommended that you make it fun through the use of reading games.

That’s right, sometimes simply reading out loud isn’t enough, as learning how to read through play can make a huge difference in a child’s learning ability. Gamma Ray Optix helps you explore some of the benefits that come from playing reading games, understand which online games are most appropriate for children of varying ages, and uncover additional resources for parents.

Reading To Your Little Ones

People often talk about the benefits of reading to your children at a young age, but do you know specifically how it can help? Aside from boosting their vocabulary and possibly helping them to learn to read on their own at a younger age, reading out loud to children can assist with both their behavior and their attention levels. One study took a look at nearly 700 families over a period of time, and found that the more often parents engaged with their children by reading out loud to them, the better they were able to pay attention. These children were also happier and less likely to develop behavioral problems that could become issues later on in school.

Father and Baby reading in the couch.

When They Read To You

Many children don’t read reasonably well until around the age of 5 or even later, but placing an emphasis on having kids read out loud to you as early as possible also brings along its own share of positives. If they are under the age of 5, it readies them for kindergarten in a huge way, allowing them to enter into school with accurate expectations of what they’ll be learning. It’s also been shown that when children learn to read very early on, they have a better chance of avoiding learning disabilities later in life. Scientists have actually found that the brain is very malleable in younger children and learning to read can actually “rewire” dyslexia in the early years. Reading out loud also allows kids to develop their knowledge of phonics in a way that school-based learning doesn’t allow for. By looking at unknown words and attempting to sound them out on their own, children as young as 2 or 3 can begin to have a firm grasp on reading rules.

Games For Reading: Ages 3 - 6

There are a variety of ways that you can encourage reading at home, from labeling items around the house to building a child’s vocabulary simply by having conversations with them. However, in today’s day and age, many parents turn to online resources when helping their children learn to read. It’s important to select games that are age-appropriate, thus offering a reasonable challenge without being overly difficult. For kids ages 3-6, explore these options:

  • Starfall offers fun games for kids as early as pre-k all the way through third grade. Rhymes, songs, a talking library, and more all engage young children and make learning fun.
  • PBS Kids allows kids to become involved in various activities like recording their own stories, using spelling tools to help characters solve problems, and brings their favorite cartoons to life with imaginative games.
  • Very early readers can learn the basics with Education.com, as the alphabet is broken down into easy to learn sections and rhyming games help to instill foundational basics.

With these reading games, kids can learn at their own pace and feel as if they just spent time having fun rather than viewing reading as a chore. Consider setting time aside every day to play a few online reading games with your younger children to solidify their knowledge.

Reading Games For Older Kids: Ages 6 & Up

Once your child starts school, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for reading help! While children will eventually become strong readers through the efforts put forth by their teachers, why not add to their learning by integrating your own games at home? Kids between the ages of 6 and 10 might enjoy Funbrain, a way to boost their vocabulary by playing word games, or Wacky Web Tales, an interactive storytelling site that lets kids enter in their own phrases to come up with silly stories.

Older kids might not fall for the allure of fun songs and bright colors, so that’s why kids age 10 and up will appreciate sites like My Hero, a place where they can read about incredible people and even submit their own essays about them. Those who are up for the challenge of a more traditional reading game might enjoy Khan Academy, where the parts of speech are dissected and can help students to become both better readers and writers.

Additional Resources For Parents

Tackling the task of teaching your child how to read doesn’t have to be overwhelming, as there are a multitude of online resources to support you every step of the way. Those who are looking for help with reading skills before kindergarten will find plenty of tips at Get Ready to Read, and parents with kids of all ages can learn a plethora of tips from the US Department of Education. Finally, if your kids are still having a difficult time reading once they’ve reached 4th grade, AdLit offers tips to help boost their skills. It’s never too early to begin reading to your kids, and it’s never too late to integrate reading games into your family’s daily or weekly routine. Take some time to explore the resources listed above and help to boost your child’s reading and learning ability.