Reading should be a pleasure – an enjoyable activity. Don’t battle with your child or force them to read – if they’re not in the mood, then read to them – they will still benefit greatly from this.
An important part of learning to read is by reading lots and lots and lots of books! It is much more beneficial to read 10 easy books than to struggle through 1 hard book – so please be aware of this when your child brings home a book that you, as a proud parent, think is too easy for your child. We teachers usually know what we are doing!
Most children learn to read without any problems. A few children find reading a terrible struggle. You can easily help by:
- Get into the habit of reading with your child for a few minutes every day (they can read to you, or you can read to them, or you can both read together or take turns!)
- Encourage the reading of easy, familiar books to build confidence, practise fluency and improve their understanding of the story.
- During the first stages of learning to read, the child must point to each word as they say it – we call this 1:1 matching. They must point – you shouldn’t point for them, but you can model, and then ask your child to try. By pointing, and watching you point, they will realise that the text on a page is made up of words, and that each word is made up of letters. They will also pick up reading rules such as we start reading from the top left of a left page, etc.
- As soon as they’ve mastered the pointing we need to stop them pointing, otherwise it slows the reading down. This is because their eyes and brain become faster than their finger!
- At tricky words, judge the mood that your child is in! According to their mood, you may want to tell them the word to keep the reading flowing, or you may want to guide them to problem-solve the word themselves by asking appropriate questions, such as What letter/sound does the word start with? Does the picture give you a clue to what the word could be? Does the word look like another word that you know, eg hot, got?
- Talk to your child about the book. If English is the second language at home, discuss the story in the child’s home-language. Ask them what they did or didn’t like. Look at the pictures and talk about what the different characters might be thinking, saying or feeling. Look at the details in the pictures.
- Talk about the punctuation in the book. Can you see a full stop? What does a full stop mean? Look at these speech marks – they let us know what someone is saying.
- Play games – point to the shortest/longest word. How many letters? Show me a capital letter? Can you find a little letter like that? Can you find that word in your word tin? Let’s make it with magnetic letters (always make the word from left to right!!) Clapping the syllables in a word is a really useful activity – it helps with their spelling in years to come (go = 1 syllable; going = 2 syllables).
- Make links between the words in books, the words the children use in their conversations, the words they may want to write and the words in their word tins. For example, if you’re reading a book with the word “Mum” make links, eg. There’s a word you know in this book. Can you see the word “mum” on this page? Offer support if they need it, eg “It starts with “m”? (do the jolly phonics actions!)
- Praise your child as much as possible.
- Books are wonderful! Enjoy reading with your child.
|Common complaints from parents!||Teachers’ answers|
|“That book is too easy for them!”||Your child will make quicker progress and gain confidence by reading lots of appropriately leveled books, than by struggling through one or two difficult books.|
|“They read books at home that are much harder than their school book!”||Those books are probably familiar books – the child has read them or had them read to them dozens of times.|
|“They’ve read that book before!”||Good! It practices all the skills and strategies we use automatically when reading, and improve fluency.|
What to do when your child makes a mistake
Try not to interrupt your child at every mistake. Let them make mistakes – they need to hear the mistake within the whole sentence to hear if it makes sense or not. Ask “Does it look right?”, “Does it sound right?” or “Does it make sense?”
You don’t need to pick up on every single mistake – especially as books become longer. Try to just go back to “useful”mistakes, – a word like “look” rather than “rhinoceros”.
You must correct recurring errors otherwise the child will be learning the wrong word.
Sometimes it helps to just tell them a tricky word to keep the flow of the reading going.
Good readers use 3 different pieces of information from the text as they read – VISUAL, MEANING and STRUCTURAL information. They are all equally important.
- Visual – help your child to learn their letters and sounds, jolly phonics, word tin letters and to look carefully at the letters that make up a word.(“Does it look right?”)
- Meaning – talk to your child. They will learn so much everyday knowledge from conversations with you. They will build up a bank of words they are familiar with, which will help them to work out tricky words in books. The pictures in books are another source of ‘meaning’ information. (“Does it make sense?”)
- Structure – Talking to your child will model correct grammar, which will improve their reading, writing and spelling. If they speak using incorrect grammar, just gently repeat their sentence correctly.(“Does it sound right?”)