Here are some suggestions on how you can help to make reading a positive experience.
1. Choose a quiet time
Set aside a quiet time with no distractions. Ten to fifteen minutes is usually long enough.
2. Make reading enjoyable
Make reading an enjoyable experience. Sit with your child. Try not to pressurise if he or she is reluctant. If your child loses interest then do something else.
3. Maintain the flow
If your child mispronounces a word do not interrupt immediately. Instead allow opportunity for self-correction. It is better to tell a child some unknown words to maintain the flow rather than insisting on trying to build them all 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’.
4. 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.
5. Success is the key. Finding the right level
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. 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.
Talk to your child’s teacher if you have any concerns about the level they are bringing home.
6. Visit the Library
Encourage your child to use the public library regularly.
7. Regular practice
Try to read with your child on most school days. ‘Little and often’ is best. Show your child that you find reading an enjoyable pastime. Children often imitate their parents and if they see you reading they are more likely to want to try it for themselves.
Remember that the more pleasure children get from books, the more they will want to read.
Allow your child to join in with your own reading activities such as; websites, shopping lists, letters, newspapers, looking at television listings, reading recipes…
Encourage your child to read print in the environment such as; traffic signs, shop names, billboards, menus, advertisements, the print on cereal packets…
Let us know in the reading diaries how your child is progressing at home.
11. Talk about the books
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. Always talk to your child about the book; about the pictures, the characters, how they think the story will end, their favourite part. You will then be able to see how well they have understood and you will help them to develop good comprehension skills.
12. Variety is important
Remember children need to experience a variety of reading materials eg. picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books.
Sometimes children will want to use picture or reference books in which there is very little text or in some cases no text at all! These books are good for stimulating ideas and discussion and for extending expressive vocabulary. You can share these books, drawing attention to the author, the illustrator, the blurb, an index or contents etc.
Young children enjoy listening to, and later on reading, stories which are familiar to them. They will often want to read books that they have encountered before, either at school or at home, even if the vocabulary is too difficult for them. Do encourage this as their knowledge of a story will help them to ‘guess’ some familiar words and join in with whole phrases or sentences. You can easily supply any words which they cannot manage.
What Should I Do If My Child Gets Stuck?
Your child will make mistakes; we all do when we are learning a new skill.
If your child is having difficulty with a word you could try some of the following prompts, but labouring over one unknown word can cause a great deal of unnecessary misery that could turn your child away from the enjoyment of reading. If a few of the prompts fail, simply give the word yourself and move on with the story.
- Let him/her make two or three guesses;
- Give him/her a little time to try to work out what the word might be (but not too much time);
- Let him/her finish the sentence to see if this will help him/her to make sense of the word;
- Discuss what they think the word might be;
- Show him/her the first letter of the word and talk about the sound it makes;
- Try to help your child to ‘sound out’; unknown words, but don’t get too bogged down in teaching them rules about spelling which might confuse them.
- Look at the pictures to give them clues. This maintains interest in the story and can prompt word recognition through thought association.
- It's really important to read the whole sentence once individual words have been decoded. This ensures that comprehension of the meaning is at the heart from the outset. Reading the whole sentence several times builds confidence further, and adding intonation is great fun too - especially if the sentence is punctuated with an exclamation mark for dramatic effect!
- Allow your child to set the pace;
- Try not to put pressure on your child to read. If they are unwilling, try another time or read to them instead;
- Always be positive and encouraging, however many mistakes your child has made;
- Allow your child to read silently sometimes, if that is what he/she wants;
- Most importantly, have fun.