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4 Ways Parents Can Help Children Strengthen Their Reading Skills

Here are 4 ways parents can help children strengthen their reading skills, and improve overall communication skills.

Reading comprehension skills help children excel throughout their lifetime. Strengthening these vital skills is as easy as playing games and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your child learns.

Imagine your child laughing their way to learning their ABCs and then to reading sentences on their favorite board game. Through play, kids not only learn to read, but they continue strengthening their reading comprehension skills over time.

  1. Play Games with Questions
  2. Any games that include questions that require kids to answer are perfect for strengthening reading comprehension skills. Not only do children have to communicate the question, but they have to comprehend what’s being asked and think about the answer. If they’re just learning to read, show them the words as you read and this helps strengthen reading skills too.

  3. Incorporate Storytelling Games
  4. Storytelling is the ideal way to improve reading comprehension skills. Games that involve creating stories from various prompts teach kids how to take what they’ve read and turn it into something more. For younger children, read them stories and then ask them to explain what you just read.

  5. Have Children Act Out Stories
  6. Make improving reading comprehension skills even more fun by turning reading into a game. After reading a story, encourage children to act out the story themselves. They’ll be so busy with their acting that they won’t even realize they’re learning. You can also play games that involve acting, such as a children’s version of Charades.

  7. Use Games That Include Instructions
  8. Following instructions requires good reading comprehension skills. Play games with your child that involve not only reading instructions, but following them. For instance, a game that has cards that tell kids to move a blue pawn forward six spaces and then discard the card may seem like just another game card, but to a child, it’s also a chance to better comprehend what they’re reading.

    Make time to play communication games with your child. You should also encourage your child to play with others and put those new communication skills into practice. They’ll not only develop better reading comprehension skills, and communication, but improve a wide variety of other educational and social skills too.

Kids Have Their Own Language When They Play

Play is more than fun – it’s a language all its own.

Have you ever sat and watched children communicate? They seem to have their own language as they play together, practicing their communication skills that we might not expect.

From non-verbal to verbal communication, kids tend to talk to each other differently than adults do. They interact through games and fun activities. It’s also where they learn valuable social skills.

The next time your child is having a play date, watch the unique way they talk to each other, and you’ll see just how effective games can be at building communication skills.

Acting Out Experiences

Unless adults are playing charades, you probably won’t see them acting out what they’ve recently experienced or learned. Children love to play pretend games that give them an outlet for better understanding their own experiences. As a result, their actions teach and communicate to other children. While they may only say a few words, they all know exactly what the other children mean.

Communicating Conflicts

Wouldn’t it be nice to bounce back from arguments as quickly as children? Kids may fight from time to time, but overall, they use play as a way to communicate with each other and work through disagreements. They may trade off toys or opt for a different game that makes another child happier. This process is helping children communicate social and emotional signals. It also encourages sharing and empathy.

Talk About Fears

The younger a child is, the less experience they have with the world. This means something as simple as taking that first family trip could be terrifying to a child. While they may not be able to fully communicate this fear to their parents, they are able to play it out with another child. Even as parents, you may notice a child playing out a fearful experience with dolls, cars or other toys. Right now, they might not have the words to fully express their fears or concerns, but through play, they can. Other children understand and play along with them to help ease various fears.

Play is a learning experience for children, but it’s also a unique way for them to communicate. Pay close attention and you may learn even more about your child this way.

    Five Language Skills to Master before Middle School

    Five language skills to master before middle school

    Five Language Skills to Master before Middle School

    Entering middle school can be a big transition for your child. Upgrading to lockers, changing teachers and classrooms for core subjects, and a more rigorous academic schedule during and after the school day.

    Alongside all of these changes, children’s language and communication skills develop in big ways. They are reasoning more soundly, using logic, and thinking abstractly. They’re required to use their language and literacy skills across many subject areas. Much of the academic success that comes in secondary school is built on foundational language skills that progress from primary schools.

    Chalk-A-Word communication game by SimplyFun


    Phonemic Awareness

    Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate individual sounds and assists in the development of reading and spelling skills.  It gives readers a way to approach novel words by ensuring a strong understanding of sound rules. Rhyming and sound segmenting games, like Rooby’s ABCs, or word creation and spelling games like Chalk-A-Word, are great ways to reinforce these skills.

    Elementary school teachers spend a lot of time teaching phonemic awareness. By the time students advance to middle school grades, many teachers assume that their students have a well-developed understanding of this complex skill. Strong phonemic awareness skills are essential to reading success as reading becomes a gateway to learning, both independently and in the classroom.

    Chalk-A-Word communication game by SimplyFun



    Storytelling, or narrative development, is a critical communication skill that is mastered in elementary school. At this age, children still have beautiful imaginations and incredible creativity that they can share with the world. Children should be able to tell a descriptive and cohesive story with beginning, middle, and an end with story elements (characters, setting, problem) that becomes vital to academic success.

    Strong vocabulary enhances narrative productions. Games like Is or Isn’t help children expand their vocabulary as they learn new words to express themselves both verbally and in written form. Spoken storytelling skills transfer to other modes of learning such as reading comprehension and writing.

    Metacognitive Strategies

    Metacognition is the awareness of one’s own thought process. Children should understand how they learn and self-monitor their own thinking during reading or classroom instruction. Metacognition becomes an important skill in all learning and life experiences.

    Metacognitive reading strategies may include students asking themselves “Do I understand what I just read?” Students may take the lead on evaluating their own progress or identifying when to ask for help.

    Five language skills to master before middle school

    Listening and Speaking

    When we think of language and communication skills, listening and speaking might seem pretty obvious. Classroom discussions are likely to become more complex where peers are sharing thoughts and ideas. Students are required to effectively engage in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, teacher led), with diverse partners. A quality discussion involves building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. These foundational skills are critical for broadening knowledge, enhancing understanding, and building community.


    Five language skills to master before middle school


    The Art of Conversation

    Some of us are still practicing mastering the art of conversation, so perhaps we can give the future middle schoolers a bit of a break here. However, conversational skills are always developing. Practice having conversations with your student using verbal and nonverbal signals can be helpful to a successful chat.

    Verbal signals such as “Cool” or “That’s interesting,” and nonverbal signals such as nodding show the speaker that you’re engaging in active listening. Ensuring that each person has an opportunity to both listen and speak without being interrupted and taking turns all make for a great conversation.

    Written by: Erika Cardamone, speech-language pathologist and leader of the PAL Awards that recognizes exceptional games, toys, and books that advance language. Erika is also a mom of four and lives to learn through play. She works in schools and private practice helping children develop speech and language skills while using awesome toys and games to make learning fun.

    Learn Early Reading Skills with Rooby’s ABCs

    Learn Early Reading Skills with Rooby’s ABCs

    Looking for a fun way to help your young learners build early reading skills? Look no further than our newest Reading and Language Arts game, Rooby’s ABCs!

    How to play Rooby’s ABCs

    In this game players take turns drawing a wooden letter token from the bag and identifying its match to determine where on one of the five alphabet boards it should be placed. A special added feature is that the round tokens have one flat side that demonstrates the correct orientation of the letter. Out loud, players share both the name of the letter they picked and what image is pictured under that letter. When a player places the last letter token and a board is complete, they collect a Rooby token. The player who has the most Rooby tokens at the end of the game, wins! If there is a tie, the players share the victory. Rooby’s ABCs is intended for 1-4 players ages 3 and up and takes about 10 minutes to play.

    Rooby’s ABCs reading game by SimplyFun


    It all starts with learning our ABCs

    “Learning the alphabet is one of the first major academic challenges a child will face in life, and one of the most important.” said Patty Pearcy, President and CEO of SimplyFun. “Playing Rooby’s ABCs is a great way to introduce the alphabet letters while building letter sequencing skills critical for early reading.”

    Rooby’s ABCs reading game by SimplyFun

    More than just reading

    In addition to learning their ABCs and the sounds they make, playing board games gives you an opportunity to interact with your child and provide valuable face-to-face communication. They can watch how you form the sounds of each letter, and then mimic it themselves. This interactive style of communication, while having fun, can also help to deepen the bond between you.

    Your New Favorite Word Game, Chalk-A-Word!

    Chalk-A-Word communication game by SimplyFun

    Your New Favorite Word Game, Chalk-A-Word!

    Ready to chalk up your vocabulary, spelling, and memory skills? Then meet Chalk-A-Word, your next game night favorite that is oodles of F-U-N for everyone! Chalk-A-Word is an interactive game where players add letter cards to build off of words created by their opponents.

    Let’s chalk up an example:

    A player lays down S,T, A and R cards. The following player plays L, E and T cards spelling the word Starlet. The first player receives four points for STAR and the second player gets seven points for STARLET. Players can weave letter cards into the word previously played but cannot re-arrange the letters. 

    The Power Cards featured in the Word Game

    A fun assortment of Power Cards included in the game helps players double down on strategy, making Chalk-A-Word a unique vocabulary game for the whole family!

    Chalk-A-Word communication game by SimplyFun

    Two Letter Cards count as two points, while adding a PLUS Card to your play doubles your Two Letter Cards to four points!

    A Power Card lets you exchange all seven of your cards for new ones, while a Draw Card lets you draw two new cards in hopes of letters you can play.

    A Trade Card lets you trade three unfavorable letters in your hand with three cards from your chosen player, while the SWIPE card enables you to select a random card from another player. 

    Wild Cards are the “luck of the draw” card that allows players to assign the letter of their choice to the card.

    Word Game Benefits of Chalk-A-Word

    Word games challenge players to build their communication, vocabulary, and spelling skills while stimulating memory and cognitive function. You’ll find our newly released Chalk-A-Word card game to be a fun addition to family game night, homeschooling, or classrooms. 

    Why play word games? Let’s face it, auto-correct does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to our spelling these days. However, our brains require strength training to stay agile and robust! That’s where word games like Chalk-A-Word come into play! Chalk-A-Word can be as easy or challenging as the words that are played, making this a fun game for adults and children ages 8 and up! Play it at home or on the go in as little as 30 minutes with 2-5 players.

    If you are looking for an alternative to app word games that encourage social engagement and less screen time, then get ready to chalk up the fun with SimplyFun’s newest game–Chalk-A-Word!