8 Simple Tips To Help Your Child Read
Take away the skill of
reading and not only books become a mysterious and
foreign world, but reading train timetables, ordering
from a menu, understanding bank statements, and any
number of straightforward daily activities become
If your child is
struggling to read, the effects of their problem can
reach into adulthood, be humiliating, and extremely
The world of a non reader is a mixed
up place where only those who know the ‘secret code’ can
decipher the strange symbols around them and fully
A sad, lonely, and stressful place
The time to catch your child’s reading
problems and support them in their quest to become a
confident and capable life long reader is Primary
School. Preferably before they reach Grade 3.
Your school will be monitoring your child’s
progress and implementing a detailed plan to improve
their reading skills and strategies. But, if you’re
worried that the school is not, then an appointment with
the teacher is a must to thoroughly explore your
concerns and issues.
Do not put this off!
After Grade 3 it is more difficult for
children to bridge the gap, learn new patterns of
reading behavior, and develop appropriate reading
Encouraging them while they’re young
is vital, and there are some things you can do at home
to complement and support your school’s efforts.
Here are 8 simple ways to help your child if
reading is a struggle for them:
your reading time a regular activity at a specific time
each day. Children love structure and will look
forward to the closeness and bonding this time brings.
For some children this may be the only intimate
one-on-one time they get to spend with a parent on a
regular basis. Making reading together a special time
for just the two of you only takes 10 or 15 minutes a
day, and the rewards are tremendous.
how you structure your reading time together. Don’t
always expect your child to read to you. Read to them
sometimes. Take turns reading. Read out loud together!
Make sure it’s a stress free and enjoyable time
3. Use the 3 P’s. Pause,
Pause when your child comes to a
word they don’t know. Don’t jump in straight away by
telling them the word or getting them to sound it out.
Let them think.
Prompt your child if they
haven’t answered after about 10 - 20 seconds. Say ‘Make
your mouth say the first sound’, or ‘ What word would
make sense there?’, or ‘Can you tell me what would sound
right there?’. Only sound out the word if it can be
effectively sounded out.
If your child doesn’t
get the word after a couple of prompts or an attempt at
sounding out, tell them the word straight away. You want
to avoid feelings of failure, plus make sure they get on
with the book while they can still remember what the
story is about.
Praise your child for their
efforts. Say something like ‘Well done, you made it look
and sound right’, or ‘Well done, you used the first
sound to help you figure out the rest of the word’. If
they didn’t get the word, simply praise them for trying
their best… ‘That was a great try - well done‘. Be as
specific as possible.
4. Not every single
word has to be right. Refrain from picking on every
last error unless you want to make your child feel
inadequate and fearful of making too many mistakes. This
will contribute to their negative attitude towards
reading and make their progress even slower.
your child is gaining the overall meaning from the story
or text, then they are achieving the major goal of
reading - to decipher words and receive a message.
5. Talk, talk, talk…... Ask your child to
retell their favorite part of the book in their own
words. Talk about what they would do if they were a
person from the book. Talk about the way the characters
in the book felt and why they felt like that. Talk about
interesting words from the book and what they mean. This
will help increase your child’s level of comprehension.
6. Be seen to be a reader. It’s
surprising how many kids never see their own parents
reading a book. A newspaper yes - but not a book! Kids
are the greatest mimics in the world, and they
especially love to copy their mum or dad.
down and read your own separate books at the same time.
Share parts of your books with one another by reading
them out loud and telling why you chose that part. Make
it obvious that reading is something you personally
value and think is worthwhile.
7. Don’t cover
up the pictures! Never. Ever. Using pictures is one
of the ways children gather information to support their
use of sound, letter, and word skills. Pictures support
the meaning of a story and provide a context to help
children solve unknown words.
books have pictures for a reason. Many times the text
doesn’t make sense without the pictures, and asking your
child to read it without looking at the pictures will
often feel like trickery to them.
8. Last but
definitely not least - make reading fun! The last
thing it needs to be is a chore. You can‘t blame any
child for being unwilling if something is hard AND a
Find books about topics your child is
interested in. Read craft books and make things. Get out
a cookbook and follow a recipe. Get out the words to
favorite songs and follow along. Create a treasure hunt
with lots of clues to read - anything that makes reading
something to look forward to.
Make your reading time together regular,
interesting, stress free, and fun. Your child will
benefit, and so might you!
Linda Ogier A teacher
with 15 years experience, Linda is also a trained
Reading Recovery teacher.