Helping Your Child with Reading at Home
As parents / carers, you are your child's most influential teacher with an important part to play in helping your child to learn to read. Whilst children read at school, individually, in groups and as part of a class, there are also lots of ways that you can support your child at home. We would encourage you to hear your child read their reading books as often as possible (remember little and often is best), but there are also other ways that you can read with your child or promote the pleasure of reading and here are some suggestions on how you can help to make this a positive experience.
‘Young people who read outside of class daily are 13 times more likely to read above the expected level for their age.’
National Literacy Trust, 2012
‘Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, making greater progress in mathematics, development of vocabulary and spelling.’
(Sullivan & Brown, Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading, 2013)
Did you know that around 20% of the marks in the new curriculum SATs reading test in KS1 and KS2 are based around giving / explaining the meaning of words in context, so developing the children’s vocabulary is vital.
Why not have a word of the week on the fridge at home? We also have a word of the week in school in each classroom.
Becoming a reader involves the development of important skills:
- Using language in conversation.
- Listening and responding to stories read aloud.
- Recognising and naming the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that they make.
- Reading often so that recognition and spelling of words becomes automatic and easy.
- Learning and using new words and developing skilss to work out what they mean in the context of a sentence or paragraph.
- Understanding what is read.
Click Here for some ways you can help your child:
1. Choose a quiet time to hear them read daily.
Encourage them to share reading with friends, grandparents, brothers, sisters and other family members. Try to provide a peaceful atmosphere with no distractions so that children can fully enjoy listening to, or reading, a book. Ten to fifteen minutes daily is usually long enough. If they are a free reader, set up a routine where they have 15 - 20 minutes of quiet time to read independently. This could be just before bedtime. Even if they are free reader it is still important to hear them read and question them on their book.
2. Make reading enjoyable.
Let children see that you value books and make reading an enjoyable experience. Sit with your child. Try not to pressurise if he or she is reluctant. Seeing adults enjoying reading from books, newspapers, magazines, recipes or menus will make children want to read themselves.
3. Keep books safe.
Encourage children to have a special place where their books can be stored. Show them how to turn pages carefully.
4. Encourage children to look for words they know around them.
Children learn from the world around them and from seeing labels, notices and signs which are written in print.
5. Practice the sounds of language.
Read books with rhymes. Teach your child rhymes, short poems and songs. Play simple word games e.g. How many words can you make up that sound like the word ‘cat’?
6. Help your child with spoken words.
Help your child take spoken words apart and put them back together. Help your child separate the sounds in words, listen for the beginning and ending sounds and put separate sounds together.
7. Maintain the flow
If your child mispronounces a word to not interrupt immediately. Instaed allow opportunity for self-correction. It si better to tell a child some unknown words to maintain the flow rather than insisting on trying to build them up from the sounds of the letters. If your child does try to 'sound out' words, encourage the use of letter sounds rather than 'alphabet names'. Let children have time to attempt words that they are unsure about before you give them the word. Help them to get the initial sound or try breaking the word into smaller sections. If your child is struggling, give them the word but encourage them to re-read the sentence correctly to reinforce the new word they have learnt and hear themselves successfully reading the sentence.
8. Be positive.
If your child says something nearly right to start with that is fine. Don't say 'No. That's wrong,' but 'Let's read it together' and point to the words as you say them. Boost your child's confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement.
Practise the alphabet by pointing out letters wherever you see them! Practise the sounds that letters make too (e.g. fffff is the sound for the letter eff). Try to read with your child on most school days. 'Little and often' is best. Teachers have limited time to help your child with reading.
You could reinforce the letters and sounds your child is learning by cutting out letters, and pictures of things that begin with that letter, from magazines or comics and create a collage. Try drawing them in soil, sand, with paint and then saying the sound the letter makes.
11. Share stories.
Share stories with your child and re-read familiar books. Children learn the patterns of language from hearing stories and need practice in reading comfortably and with expression using books they know. They may even enjoy reading the story to younger sibling or friend.
12. Visit the Library
Join your local library – children can have access to hundreds of good quality books, both fiction and nonfiction… and its free!
If you would like access to some fantastic ebooks, try visiting www.oxfordowl.co.uk . There are over 250 free books for parents / carers to read with their child at home, with lots of ideas on how to support your child with reading.
13. Play games.
'I Spy' is a good way of showing that every word begins with a letter. You can also play games where children identify the odd one out in a list like cat, mat, dot, rat. Play card games like Bingo, Memory cards, Snap and Go Fish.
14. Label things
Write labels under pictures or objects to show them that words belong to things.
15. Model reading
Model reading from left to right by pointing to words with your finger, then theirs.
There is more to being a good reader than just being able to read the words accurately. Just as important is being able to understand what has been read. Talk to your child about what is going on in a book or story. Ask questions such as:
- Which character did you like best? Why?
- Why was the King upset?
- What do you think will happen next?
- How did the girl feel at the end of the story?
- What was your favourite part of the story?
Encourage children to use the pictures to support them and discuss new words. You will then be able to see how well they have understood and you will help to develop good comprehansion skills.
17. Keep in touch with school.
Let us know if books need to be changed or you feel your child is finding the level of books they have been given, or areas of their reading, difficult. Please also feel free to share any reading successes or areas of reading interest that your child really enjoys, with us.
18. Other languages.
If English is not your family’s first language, look for books that are printed in a dual language. You can talk about books or stories in any language.
Remember children need to experience a variety of reading materials eg. picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books.
Help your child start a home library; paperback books are fine. Encourage your child to swap books with friends. Check used book stores. Give books as gifts. For gift ideas, ask for someone to buy them their favourite book when they were that age.
20. D-E-A-R Time.
Try holding D-E-A-R time at your house. "DEAR" stands for 'Drop Everything And Read'. During DEAR time everyone in the family sits down for some uninterrupted reading time.
21. Key Words
The 100 Key Words are the words that your child will come across regularly in both their reading and writing, and includes some of the ‘tricky words’ that are difficult to sound phonetically or are frequently misread or misspelt.
Practise the 100 Key Words by making ‘Flash cards’.
How many words can you read in a minute?
Challenge children to find given Key Words in books they are reading.
Make Key Words out of playdough or letters made from a variety of fabrics or materials.
Praise your child for trying hard with their reading. Celebrate their successes, but let them know that it is all right to make mistakes! Success is the key. Parents anxious for a child to progress can mistakenly give a child a book that is too difficult. This can have the opposite effect to the one they are wanting. Remember 'Nothing succeeds like success'. Until your child has built up his or her confidence, it is better to keep to easier books. Struggling with a book with many unknown words is pointless. Flow is lost, text cannot be understood and children can easily become reluctant readers.
23. Have fun!
Children love it when their parents / carers play with them and praise them. If you have fun reading stories, then chances are your child will too!
Why not try:
- Reading adventure or ghost stories in the dark or under the duvet by torchlight. Try reading the book in a funny accent or breaking up the character parts so you take it in turns to read.
- Making up a story about your child and all their favourite toys – and use them to act it out.
- Making up a treasure hunt around your home with a clue in every room for your child to find and read. Or do this for an exciting short story and each time they find a clue, you give them the next paragraph.
Reading is one of the most valuable and rewarding skills your child will learn. We believe that children who read regularly to an adult at home, make greater and quicker progress in the development of their reading and comprehension skills and therefore any time you can spend hearing your child read will provide valuable support to their learning.