We know that there are many benefits to reading. Reading can improve your vocabulary, command of the language as well as your communication skills. Reading is also the foundation for learning other subjects in school and in life!
As your child progresses with their reading skill, they may be faced with a new challenge, especially for children who have not fully developed their ability to focus for longer periods. This can be quite apparent when reading, which will then become more of a chore than a joy.
Bearing the above in mind, it does then stand to reason that reading is a skill that is very important for your child to master, not just for academic purposes, but also for life. So, the burning question on most parents’ lips would be….” How can I help or encourage my child to become a super reader?”
Reading can be quite a ‘testing’ affair for a child, especially if they are new to the skill and had no natural affinity to it in the first place. If this is the case, you will find that they might not be able to stay focused while reading.
So, what do you do to help your child in such situations?
Read with your child
Children don’t take to reading for a number of reasons, but whatever the reason, it might take its toll on their confidence, which will then manifest itself in the way they read. A great way to help your child overcome this could be to read with your child. This way, your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the words on the page and is also comforted in the fact that you are supporting him/ her. This could be done in a number of ways: alternate reading of the sentences/paragraphs or letting your child read and you support as and when it is needed. This, in turn, will boost your child’s confidence and he/she will also be more relaxed, knowing you are there to support their efforts. It is also a way of you showing your child how certain expressions should be said and how (and where) to be animated while reading certain parts of the passage. Needless to say, this approach is much more fun and won’t be considered a chore.
Note, this does not have to be you reading with your child. It could be anyone capable of offering such support.
Read aloud to your child
This is also an effective way of supporting your child as it enables him/her to learn certain reading skills required to help them become more fluent in their reading e.g. pacing, intonation, animation, etc. We know that children learn much differently from adults. They will take this on board subconsciously and begin to apply these skills while reading and over time, you will begin to see the impact of your efforts.
Listen to audiobooks
In the same way that you read aloud to your child, it is also a great idea to have them listen to audiobooks of their favourite stories, so they can hear how the readers express themselves in different sections of the stories.
Select stories or themes that are of interest to your child
It goes without saying, that if you are interested in something, you are more likely to give it more attention and focus than if you weren’t. The same can be said for books; if your child is not interested in the story, or finds the theme a little too tricky to comprehend, this might affect your child’s overall attitude towards the story – and the activity as a whole.
Split up the text into smaller parts
For some children, just looking at the length of the passage may be quite daunting in itself and lead them to admit defeat before they even start. You might want to start your child off with books with shorter text lengths, or books with collections of short stories. You could take it one chapter at a time or agree on a plan with your child, that would make him/her feel more comfortable.
Also note, it needn’t be about the quantity but rather the quality. So if your child is only able to read a page or two in the first instance, that should be fine and you can then think of other activities to do with the sections that have been read e.g. guessing outcomes / predictions, discussing why certain things happened, your child’s thoughts on any of the characters, deductions and inferencing etc. There are many ways to enhance your child’s reading skills without making the process seem uninteresting for him/her.
Look for underlying issues
As already mentioned, there may be other issues that are not as apparent, that might be hindering your child’s reading progress. If you have this suspicion, it would be best to seek the advice of a professional, in order to know how to address it. Once the issue has been determined, it would also provide a way forward that could turn things around for your child reading-wise.
Have the basics covered
The lack of fluency may be traced back to how your child learnt how to read. Or it may well be that your child just needs a couple of refresher sessions on learning how to read using the phonics system. This is the process whereby one is taught how to read by decoding words; breaking the words down into the sounds that make them up. A few minutes a day of such practice should be enough to get your child familiar with the process once again.
There are many more ways to help your child become a fluent reader but if you start with our tips above, you can be sure that with regular practice, you will definitely see significant progress in the way your child reads.
Children have different rates of learning and it might be a case of your child just needing a bit more time to get to grips with reading. It always helps to start your child off as soon as you notice the interest developing.
At Leaders are Readers, we teach your child to read with our award-winning Reading Programme. We use advanced teaching methods that help all children from 3 years old, to learn to read fluently and with confidence, often to a standard, years above their peers. Even those diagnosed with reading difficulties such as dyslexia or autism, excel.
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