We’re big advocates of reading with your children from the word go. In fact, we even started reading to our baby when he was still in the womb! I’ve never been an avid reader myself but I do want Ted to grow up with a rich vocabulary and a love of books. The only way I’m going to achieve that is by reading to him and sharing books with him regularly.
As he grows older, I want to support Ted with his reading. As a teacher, I feel fairly well placed to provide some reading strategies on how you, as a parent, you can support your child with their reading at home.
Choose a quiet time
Set aside a quiet time with no distractions. Time is age dependent but ten to fifteen minutes a day is usually long enough. This time and space should be regular so they begin to learn that time of the day is reading time. Usually, just before bed works well.
Make reading enjoyable
Make reading an enjoyable experience. You could use props, funny voices or even interactive books. Sit with your child and do it together and try not to pressurise if he or she is reluctant. If your child loses interest then do something else and come back to the reading in a short while. Chose books that are of interest to your child. Any topics that will engage them in the book.
Maintain the flow
If your child mispronounces a word don’t interrupt them immediately (which can be very tempting!) Instead allow opportunity for self-correction.
When trying to decipher an unknown word it is better to tell a child the ‘tricky’ words rather than allowing them to segment and blend the sounds, which won’t work.
For the words that can be sounded out phonetically encourage the use of letter sounds rather than ‘alphabet names’. We’ll be sharing a post in the next couple of weeks directing some of these terms, so keep an eye out for it.
Boost your child’s confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement. It’s an obvious one really, but positive praise is so powerful when learning.
Success is the key
Parents anxious for a child to progress quickly 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 their confidence, it is better to keep to easier books. Struggling with a book with many unknown words is disheartening. Flow is lost, text cannot be understood and children can easily become reluctant readers. Confidence is one of the most important things when reading. Make sure you match the book to the child’s ability.
Visit the Library
Encourage your child to use the public library regularly. Most are free to join and they obviously have a huge range of books. Libraries also usually offer some kind of story time, rhyme times, sing alongs etc which are great ways to make reading & books a lot of fun. Ted goes weekly with his Grandma.
Try to read with your child every day.
Create a designated space
Having a set area in the nursery, play room, living room or wherever, just for books helps teach children the importance of books and reading. Most classrooms nowadays have a specific book corner used to really celebrate reading in all it’s forms. The home should be no different, albeit on a smaller scale. We came across Tidy Books, who sent us one of their bookcases. It was simple for me to put together, primarily because Ted and his Grandpa did it, but they did find it easy. I’m not sure how helpful Ted was in the process but hasn’t stopped talking about the screwdriver ever since.
The best thing about these cases is that they’re very flat so hug the wall and don’t take up much space, yet you can get a wide selection of books in them. You can secure them to the wall as well, so they’re nice and safe. Having books displayed like this makes them a key feature in the room and encourages the child to chose books independently. Making a snug and cosy book corner is inviting your child to curl up and enjoy a book. This is the same principle as in the classroom.
The other great thing that these Tidy Books bookcases offer, is the organisation aspect. As a teacher, making different kinds of books accessible is half the battle. I’ve already noticed Ted thinking about if he wants a picture book or geeky book when choosing, purely because he can see them better laid out.
From a dads perspective, it’s a neat bit of kit that has so many benefits. We’d definitely recommend you taking a look at the Tidy Books website; they don’t just have book cases, but also book boxes! Something on our wish list for the playroom.
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 etc. You will then be able to see how well they have understood and you will help them to develop good comprehension skills.
Variety is important
Remember children need to experience a variety of reading materials eg. picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books. Even the TV times can count as reading… right?
Reading is a life skill that everybody needs. Even more than just being a tool to get through life though, it can also bring about a lot of joy. I want Ted to read for enjoyment and so I’ll be following these 10 points as he grows up.
I also wanted to quickly share with you Ted’s 3 favourite books. There’s nothing better than being recommended a great read!
Have I missed anything? What would you add?
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