Read to your child every night, even if it’s only a couple of pages. Sometimes it’s the last thing you feel like in the evening, but this is probably the most important way you can help your child get into reading. And they love it!
Follow the words with your finger or corner of a bookmark as you read. Over time, you can deliberately not say a word and the child says it. Pick easy words, just to check they are following. Or even say the wrong word, and the child will correct you. Then the child can read a sentence on each page, and build up to a paragraph. But remember, you reading to your child is their treat so do not overdo the testing.
Ask your child to read to you at breakfast time. This could be homework reading or their chosen book. Children are fresher in the morning, especially those who may be struggling. I know mornings can be difficult but if you work the reading into your routine at breakfast, your evenings will be less stressed. Take 5 to 10 minutes at the breakfast table to work through the reading. An older sibling could do this, even taking turns with the parent(s).
Have a chart to tick each time the reading is completed. Lots of positive comments and feedback. Smile and be calm. If you are frustrated, imagine how they feel. Remember, it will get easier. Reward the reading at the end of each week.
Varietyis the spice of life – find your nearest second-hand book shop or visit car boot sales. A new book every week (which probably won’t set you back more than 30p or so) is a wonderful reward, a great trip out, the child can choose and it is all part of the reading experience. Encourage a little of many different types of reading materials as often as possible.
A bookmark can make the book you are reading very special.
Read your books and magazines while your children read. Children learn by copying, whether consciously or subconsciously. So you should try to read. Curl up on the sofa with the paper, a magazine or a book and encourage your child to do the same with their book, even just for five or ten minutes. Try to make this part of your routine. This is lovely quiet time.
Cut out interesting articles from the newspaper that would interest your child – funny or serious – football, animals, local people or places they know. Read them out loud, pointing to the words. Pursue any discussion that follows – this is a great vocabulary builder.
Talk with your child’s teacher. If you are concerned that your child is not reading as competently as you would expect, discuss this with their teacher. Agree on a way forward with objectives and time frames. You may also consider evaluation for possible dyslexia or an eye test (both generally and for colour sensitivity). But remember, many children do learn to read slowly.
Play word games on the go – in the car, restaurants, waiting rooms etc. – I spy; word association (first word you think of when I say ‘cat’); make a sentence using each letter in turn of the car registration plate in front.