Help Your Child With Reading

Monday, February 23, 2009

Many parents these days want to help their child as much as possible with their education, and for many that means reading. Get it wrong, and you can create a life-long resistance to picking up a book. Get it right, and you are giving your child the tools to access the whole school curriculum and a source of pleasure for life.
Create a reading culture in your home. If your child sees that books are valued in your home and that reading is something that you like doing, he will see books and reading as part of his life. You cannot expect your child to pick up a book if he never sees you do it!
Start young. Children need books before they can read. Wooden and cloth books have many merits - they are virtually indestructible and your child can learn to turn the pages and look at the pictures. Believe it or not, some children get to school age without ever seeing a book.
Make reading part of the routine. Read a bedtime story to preschool children every night. Your child will have favorites which he will enjoy time and time again until both you and he know every word of it by heart. Stick with it! This familiarity breeds confidence and a sense of ownership.
Join the library. Books are expensive, and you will need a variety of stories even if your child apparently doesn't! Also, having a library card makes you a member of a club - a community of readers. As children get older, choosing their own books gives them a sense of control, as well as responsibility for the book they have borrowed.

Sit next to them on the couch to listen to what they're reading.
Sit next to them on the couch to listen to what they're reading.
Listen to your child read. When your child is of school age, they will start to bring "readers" home with them. Have your child read them aloud to you, but keep it to 5-10 minutes at first. Encourage them to "sound out" new words, or look for clues in the pictures. Be patient and use praise, not criticism.
Find out what methods and reading schemes your child's school have adopted so that you can support them. Talk to your child's teacher too and ask for hints and tips. They do this for a living, but they can almost never give a child the one-on-one time that you can.
Use audio books to encourage independent reading. Give your child the book and the audio version and let them read along with the spoken word version. This allows children to access material which is slightly too advanced, but it also allows them to gain confidence and a sense of independence.
Talk to your child and explain to them the meaning of words. Point to objects and explain their meaning in the course of your daily activities and play together.
Use sounds, songs, gestures and words that rhyme to help your child understand language and its subtle variations.
Have books and other reading materials easily accessible in your home where your child can easily reach them.
Show a good example by letting your child see you reading books, newspapers and magazines.
Have fun with it. Reading should be something that you and your child can bond over, so enjoy spending quality time together.

Reluctant readers can often be tempted with books which do not require a great investment of time on the part of the reader. Poetry, short stories, graphic novels, comics, fun factual books like the "Horrible Histories" series and those which explain how things work can all make great starting points.


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