woman reading book to toddler

Level up your child’s reading ability

For the last number of weeks our blog series has focused on giving maths advice to parents. This week we thought it would be good to bring our focus back to English. As most parents will know, your child’s academic success is directly linked to their literacy level. Supporting your child to develop strong reading skills is imperative for them to thrive academically. If your child starts to fall behind in reading, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to identify the issue and bring them back up to speed. Here we focus on how to take your child’s reading ability up a level.

All parents want their child to reach their potential at school. A small weakness in one topic, such as handwriting, reading or numeracy, can make other areas of the curriculum more difficult. When a child falls behind it can undermine their confidence and self-belief, and sometimes this can be very hard to recover.

Many parents do a wonderful job and read stories to their children when they are young. As your child gets older, instilling a joy of reading can be critical to their language development, independence, and development. As your child begins to learn to read, or if along their learning journey they begin to struggle with reading on their own, there are numerous things that you can do to help improve their reading and their attitude towards reading which you can find here.

However, what you do to bring your child’s reading up a level? The first thing to do is to contact your child’s teacher. Have a discussion with them. The teacher will probably reassure you that your child is at the level they need to be at. However, if they have identified any issues they will share this with you and highlight areas that you can work on at home with your child.

Developing a love of reading early by giving your child access to a varied and wide catalogue of books is a great start. Here are a few tips to further supplement home reading:

Learn how, when and why a text was written

Do a bit of investigating to establish more about the origins of a book. Who is the author? Have they written other similar books / poetry? Why did they write the book? What was happening in the world when they wrote the book? Lots of classic stories and texts are perfect for children to discover.

Make ‘word books’ of difficult words encountered when reading

This will encourage your child to write the words down and and ascertain a greater understanding of difficult words. It also creates a handy reference guide for when they come across the same word / words in the future.

Look into the origins of a word

When you’re child is looking up the meaning or spelling of a word, encourage them to find out more about its origin, how the same word is said in different languages, what other words mean the same thing (synonyms).

Have your child read aloud to others

Encourage your child to read books to any younger siblings or cousins if possible. This will encourage them to alter their delivery and care more about how the words sound and how the meaning is conveyed. It will also give them confidence when someone else is relying on them to deliver the information.

Discuss characters and situations in the book

Make sure your child understands the plot and characters as they go along. You can check their understanding by querying them about the book details as the story progresses- Why is this character behaving in a certain way? What do they think might happen as a result of this action?

Error correction

It is important to teach your child ways to self-correct, as you will not always be there with them when they read. If a word is causing problems, encourage them to say it aloud. Does it sound right? Why doesn’t it sound right? This will help develop independence.

Use syntax to establish the meaning of an unfamiliar word

Get your child in the habit of reading a word in the context of its sentence rather than in isolation. If a word is tricky, ask them to look at the words surrounding it and try to guess what the word could be and what it might mean.

Finding time and space for quiet reading

If possible create a spot where reading sessions always happen – a corner of your child’s room for example. This will help your child develop a routine.

If you’re having trouble with generating ideas to help improve your child’s reading, you might want to speak to someone a little removed from the situation, to get some support or maybe even another point of view. Go to one or two trusted sources of information, and trust your own instincts. The School Run is an amazing resource for all things primary school! Feel free to contact us here at Primary Tutor Project where we are always happy to help parents take their child’s reading ability up a level.

Remember, you may not be able to help your child as much as you’d like. Do your best. You do not need to get every decision spot on. Perfect parents don’t exist. “Good” parenting is enough.

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