We don’t have to tell you that reading is important: it increases literacy skills, builds self-confidence and improves vocabulary skills to name a few reasons. Reading can also open your child’s eyes to concepts they might otherwise be unaccustomed to and gives you the space to chat about them in a safe environment.
Your role as a parent in fostering a love of reading is invaluable. Still, many parents find it difficult to know the best way to support their child’s learning. Their book comes home from school every day for you to hear them read, but how do you go from that to a child that cannot only read fluently and confidently but actually enjoys doing it?
Our top tips for supporting your child with reading might help:
1) Read as much as possible, every day if you can. Read to them, hear them read and read together. Reading with your child for just 10 minutes a day is enough to make a huge difference in their development.
2) Let them see you read, and always have reading materials on hand, whether it’s books, magazines or recipes. Sign up to your local library or look for free book sites online. All this really helps to promote a reading culture at home.
3) Read a wide range of books with them. Let the kids select their own books and follow their interests. Don’t make them read something they’re not enjoying, it’ll only put them off. Know that it’s OK to read the same book twice. Re-reading helps kids read more quickly and accurately.
4) Find a comfortable reading spot and sit side by side with your child. As tempting as it is to get on with the housework or start making tea, your child will do a better job if you give them your full attention. Be patient, be enthusiastic and listen.
5) In school your child will be taught phonetically. Encourage the use of letter sounds rather than ‘alphabet names’. So ‘ssss’ instead of ‘es’. Encourage them to use their phonic skills and knowledge from school to read new or unfamiliar words. As they get older they will begin to learn about spelling patterns and rules, too. For longer words encourage them to break them down into segments, a long word can be overwhelming, but once it’s broken down into smaller sounds they can blend it back together to read the whole word.
6) If your child mispronounces a word do not correct them straight away. Instead, allow them the opportunity for self-correction. Try not to say ‘No. That’s wrong,’ but ‘let’s read it together’ and point to the words as you say them. Be positive. Let them know it’s OK to make mistakes.
7) Allow the child to use the pictures in the book to help. The visual images support their reading and help the children understand the meaning of the text.
8) Don’t try to push them ahead of the level the teacher has placed them on. The goal isn’t to get through every book as quickly as possible. The goal is to learn the process of reading.
9) Talk to younger children while reading together. This is a great way of encouraging two-way communication. Discuss the book and ask questions such as ‘what do you think will happen next?’, ‘Why do you think the author has used that word?’ and ‘How do you think the story will end?’ Understanding the story is just as important as reading the words.
10) Ensure you communicate with the teacher in the home school diary every time you read together. Include positive comments and any concerns.