Learning to read helps children learn the fundamentals of language, stimulates their imagination, aids brain development, enhances their ability to concentrate and listen all while improving and developing strong literacy skills - something they will carry for life and is a crucial element of every child's education.
If your child is struggling with reading or maybe you're looking for a way to start, here are some simple strategies to help improve your child's reading:
How to help improve your child's reading:
Use every opportunity.
Make reading part of your everyday life from reading notice boards, recipes, shop names, road signs and newspaper headlines and make sure they have an engaging book to keep them occupied during road trips and at appointments.
Make it fun.
Use fun and inventive ways to encourage your child to practice spelling words by playing simple old school games like Hangman and Word Search. If your child has access to the internet, Reading Eggs is an invaluable educational online game which can help motivate your child to explore and learn in an easy and fun way.
Don't overdo it.
Avoid forcing your child to read entire chapters at a time, especially if they are struggling. Encourage them to read just one paragraph or page at a time, follow their lead. Over time naturally, lengthen the time spent reading together and try to keep it around the same time of day.
Make it an enjoyable experience.
Create a relaxing, safe space where you can both sit back and spend some quality time reading together. Snuggling up in a warm environment can make it a more enjoyable and positive experience for you both and will connect the reader and listener in an intimate way.
Read age-appropriate books.
Providing books at the right level is extremely important for your early reader. Your child should be able to recognise a majority of the words without any help. Constantly stopping to focus on words they do not know is very distracting and will make it difficult for them to follow the overall meaning of the story.
Set goals for your child to read two or three books over school holidays or midterms and rewards them with a trip to the library. In fact, over the summer months, all public libraries encourage children to begin or continue reading for pleasure with its national reading challenge 'Summer Stars'.
Boost their confidence.
If you have multiple children at different reading levels, get them to practice together. Ask older kids to help younger ones with reading. Not only will it give them a confidence boost, but they are also practising their own reading skills without even knowing it.
Join a library.
Expose your child to more books than you can afford to buy with a free library membership. At your local library, you can borrow stacks of books without worrying about money and with the help of librarian recommendations, you can find age-appropriate books your kid will enjoy.
Technology is not the devil.
If you can't get to your library for whatever reason, make use of your libraries online services and borrow ebooks instead. Reading in all forms is beneficial for children and by reading from a digital device could be a fun new way of enhancing their reading abilities.
Having your child read aloud forces them to slow down and process what they are reading, which helps improve reading comprehension. Take turns reading aloud so you can both hear and see the words at the same time.
Promote your love of reading and open up conversations about what you enjoy reading. Use every opportunity by sharing your enthusiasm for a book, magazine or something you read online. If you found something funny, interesting or educational, open up a discussion around that particular topic.
Praise your child.
Children need regular encouragement, so it is essential you point out how much they are trying and how much their reading has improved. Actively encourage and congratulate them on their progress.
Lead by example.
And finally, be a good role model - if your child sees you reading, they will naturally mimic your behaviour. Even from a young age, open regular discussions about what you both enjoy about the current books you are reading.