How to Encourage your Child to Read

Helping your reluctant reader

For some children, reading can be a challenge. Perhaps they have had a tough time settling in at school or they have are simply finding the whole idea of reading a bit challenging. Some children struggle to connect letters and the sounds they make together. For others, they may not yet have grasped the concept of stories and one that resonates with them enough to spark their imagination and set the ball rolling in the right direction. Do you know what type of learner your child is? Most don’t but this is the opportune time to really get to know how your child thinks, processes ideas and plays. If you can figure out what makes them tick, then you can find a way to engage them in the process through creative interactions around reading.

We all know that reading and being comfortable with the use of letters, their correlating sounds and how words are formed is an integral part of the learning process at school. Without this vital skill, children struggle to find their comfort zone in school. Let’s look at some ways that you can help your child to get to grips with reading so that they can build on that very important foundation for lifelong learning.

From the time your baby is born, you talk to them, interact with them and you can even begin to read to them. It is never too early to introduce your child to books. Your baby will respond to the sound of your voice, the routine that comes with bed time stories and as they grown into toddlerhood, they will soon come to recognise and love their daily story time.

As your child progresses into the pre-school years, you will have already laid the foundation for an interest in books. Involve your child in the story. You don’t necessarily have to read the words in the beginning, but discuss the pictures, make up your own version. Let your child decide what is happening based on the pictures.

Your child should enjoy story time, the more fun and interactive, the more they are likely to be interested in reading as time goes on.

Let your child choose

It is easy to fall into the trap of picking up your favourite books but your child really should be allowed to select books that they want to sit and read with you. Perhaps you can collect a selection of word and picture books, magazines, joke books and comics. Reading doesn’t have to be a chore, it can be stimulating for both of you if you let your child lead and learn about what they like and what books interest them. Over time, it will become clear what pictures, types of books, stories and ideas get your child’s attention. The more interested your child becomes, the more likely they are to start to want to become more involved in the process.

In the beginning, it doesn’t matter what you’re reading together. What appeals to your child is more important as long as it is appropriate for them, let them lead. This is the opportunity to get your child involved in the whole process of reading. Selecting a book, sitting down comfortably, relaxing so that they are not too hyped up and are able to have “quiet time” necessary to enjoy the activity with you.

Involve your child in turning the page, perhaps focus on a few words so that your child gets familiar with words and can identify them in time. You can also let your child decide on what the story is all about. It is important to let your child be in charge as they are more likely to learn when they’re actively involved in something that they are interested in.

You can begin to teach your child about how stories unfold. As they progress, introduce them to the concept of sequence. What is the logical order that take place in a sequence of events throughout the story. This will help your child to understand how stories are constructed, they have a beginning, a middle and end. During the story, something happens which sets of a series of events that unfold as you go. As your child begins to recognise these, they will become eager to read the story again and again. This is perfect, children learn through repetition.

Another idea to encourage interest and to help your child to learn about the sequence of stories is to cut out some pictures that tell a story. Let your child learn about where each picture fits in relation to the story’s time line.

This is a great activity that you can make up in advance and take along with you when you’re out and about and need to distract your toddler or young child. They can also do these same picture stories with others and this will encourage them to ‘show off’ about how much they know so that they are praised by different family members, friends or childcare staff. This helps to reinforce their learning experience.

E-books or online reading resources can also be a good way to help your child become interested in reading. There are many different Apps and online reading programmes that help to build on your child’s existing knowledge, helping them to stay interested and teaching them through game based activities.

Again, again

As mentioned previously, young children learn through repetition. Reading the same book or playing the same game over and over helps to reinforce the learning and this also helps you to see just how much your child is taking in, you will be amazed. Encourage your child to notice new things about the story each time you read it. Ask them to identify words or sounds, look for new pictures or previously unnoticed elements on the page. You can also ask your child what is coming next so that they begin to concentrate more each time so that next time, they can remember even more of the story than they did before.

Loud and clear

Read aloud to your child. This helps with their vocabulary and grammar. They will learn to pronounce words correctly and this also helps them to identify the sound of tricky words as they progress at school. There is also the added benefit of hearing your voice and the interaction that takes place during reading time together promotes your parent-child bond and you will both enjoy this time together as your child will delight in receiving your undivided attention.

Moving on

Leave little notes or letters around the house for your child to find. This not only encourages them to remember words from their books but it also makes the process fund and engaging. If you’re worried about your child’s reading, speak to your child’s teacher, school nurse or GP.

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