Welcome back to Best Case Parenting and another article around reading (I seem to be doing a lot recently!!). If you have ever wondered how to improve your child’s reading skills, this is the article for you 🙂
I have already written articles talking about the best and worst ways to teach reading, as well as how to teach a 3-year-old to read. All of these articles will help you understand the process your child will need to go through in order to read.
Today’s article is not so much about the technical process of reading, but a more practical guide for parents to let them know what they can do to encourage their child to read more and be a better reader!
Breath, There’s Plenty of Time
I find that a lot of parents feel worried and anxious about their child’s reading ability (or apparent lack of it) way too early. In reality, most children still have plenty of time to learn how to read or to improve their reading.
When you feel the pressure of time, you will be anxious as a parent, something that could rub off on your child and cause them anxiety about reading too. This won’t help anyone involved, so relax. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come to your child quickly.
Please do not compare your child to other children. Every child is different, as is the situation they have grown up in. Comparing them to others and seeing reading as a competition is not helpful for anyone involved.
Build A Love of Reading
If your child is going to get good at reading, it will help if they feel interested in the words on the pages of their story books to start with. This will give them natural motivation to make the effort to learn to read.
This love of reading can be developed by giving your child access to high-quality books from an early age. On this very website, I have reviewed LillyPost and Vooks, two services that can help build your story book library at home.
Also, take your child to their local library on a regular basis, giving them time to look at and choose books they like.
Make sure to read to your child every day too. In no time your child will want to read their favourite books without your help….boom….natural motivation for reading achieved 🙂
Be A good Role Model for Reading
Show your child the importance of reading by showing them how much you value reading. When your children see you reading books these are the messages you are sending.
Also, include your child in any chores around the house that include reading. If you can find a few that your child enjoys, this could be another natural motivation for them to learn to read themselves.
A good example of this would be shopping lists. Before going to the supermarket with your child, sit down with them and talk about what you need or want to buy. Write these in a list in front of your child. When in the supermarket, let your child hold the shopping list as you read off and find the different items.
Surround Your Child in a Language Rich World
Surrounding your child in a language rich environment will help them have a deep understanding of language, which will help immensely when learning to read.
As stated above, ensuring your child is read to often and has a good library of quality story books is a part of that.
Also, make sure that you are encouraging spoken language with your child. This includes things such as playing alongside your child and narrating their play, as long as having discussions about what they are doing and why (especially as they get older).
Ask your child open-ended questions during their play, just make sure you are doing this in a natural way and not bombarding them. What is that your building? Are you going to add anything else? What is this part for?
Role play is a great way to encourage language in your home too. And it works great, as most children naturally want to imitate what they see adults doing. You could have a play kitchen or a doll’s house in your house, for example. The play this encourages is great for developing language.
You can also play language games with your child. It can be as simple as a describing game such as ‘I Spy’. Anything to get your child listening to and speaking language.
Sing songs with your child. Alongside books, songs are a good way to help your child widen their experience of language in a fun way.
Finally, no matter what your child says, make sure to be positive and encouraging about it (unless of course they are being rude to you!!). If you show negativity towards their speech or start correcting it, your child could become reluctant to talk at all.
Along with this positivity, you need to give your child time to speak. There is nothing worse than an adult cutting across what a child is trying to say just because there is a short pause. Make sure to give your child the time they need to express their ideas without fear of constant interruptions.
Make Reading Relevant!
As well as helping your child build a love of books, you can also help reading come alive by relating it to something they like. If you have a Frozen mad child, for example, read lots of books about Frozen and do language activities around this theme. Describe a Frozen character for your child to guess or make up stories of your own related to Frozen…the possibilities are endless.
If you want your child to use a reading book program to help their reading, make sure to find one they like and that has interesting storylines. One of my pet peeves is boring and tedious readers that focus too much on the words in the book than the fun of the storylines. If the readers interest your child, they will want to read them more.
A lot of schools, for example, still use the ancient Oxford Reading Tree series of readers with Biff and Chip. If your child shows no interest in the storylines within, switch to another program at home.
Make sure you understand the process your child is going through with reading. Ask your child’s teacher for the reading program they are using, for example. This will help you pitch any reading you may ask your child to do at home at the right level. If you are expecting them to read things that are too hard for them it can be frustrating and demotivating for your child.
Being in contact with your child’s teacher is also important to co-ordinate your home efforts with what is happening in school. If you are both pulling in the same direction, reading improvements should be easier to achieve.
Well, there you have it! My top tips for helping your child become a better reader. I sincerely hope this will help you get your child up to speed with reading in a quick and painless way for everyone 🙂
If you are struggling with the actual mechanics of teaching reading to your child, I would highly recommend the Children Learning Reading program. I have reviewed it on this site, and find it to be the quickest and simplest reading program for parents to follow.