How to Help your Child with Reading
Reading with your child regularly is the best thing you can do to support their learning and progress. Not only does learning to read create a lifetime of pleasure and interest, it also supports your child’s ability to access the rest of the curriculum. Whether it’s reading a maths question that’s written in words or reading a historical source to gain an understanding of life in the past, being a fluent reader is integral to a child’s overall development in all subjects.
Listening to you read stories
Your child gains so much from hearing you read a story to them, no matter how old they are. Listening to stories provides children with an understanding of how stories are structured, it develops their vocabulary and it helps provide a context for meaning. Try to use different voices for different characters and use your tone of voice to add emotion such as excitement or fear. Older children love listening to stories as much as younger ones – one way of doing this is to share and take turns at reading a page or a chapter each.
Listening to your child read
Learning to read takes time and lots of practice. Investing time in listening to your child read is time that is very well spent as it will reap rewards in the future. It’s important to make the environment conducive to concentration so choose a time of day when you both have time to dedicate to reading, turn off all screens and phones and find somewhere comfortable to enjoy the time together. If your child is a reluctant reader, take turns to read a page each or split the amount of time you dedicate to this into two smaller slots.
We’d like children to read five times a week. For children in Early Years and KS1, this should be with an adult so that you can support your child with tricky words or with new sounds that he or she is learning. For fluent readers, we encourage independent reading of at least 20 minutes per day. All children from Reception up to Year 6 come home with a Reading Record, which should be completed by either parents or children at least five time a week. Please see How to help your child with phonics for tips and tricks for sounding out new words.
Using questions to support your child’s understanding
Children initially develop both fluency in reading and understanding of what they are reading alongside each other. This is where listening to stories can really support your child’s understanding. You can read a book that may be above their current fluency standard to your child and he or she can still discuss the meaning behind the text. You can therefore ask much more complex questions for texts than you might for a book that your child has read themselves.
Once children are fluent readers, the focus shifts much more towards understanding. For older children, therefore, the discussion around what they are reading becomes more important. Below, you will find a list of interesting questions that you can use to open discussions. Many of these questions approach comprehension from different angles to really get your child to think. For example, asking ‘Which character don’t you like?’ will open a different type of conversation to ‘What do you think of Harry?’