When Big Girl started practising sounds and later reading of first words, I suddenly found myself in unfamiliar territory. Supporting my little one to help her read was completely new to me, and I’m not surprised there are books written specifically for parents on teaching children to read. That’s why I’ve asked Anne-Marie Idowu, director and head tutor of London private tutoring company Milestones Education, to share her top tips for getting children reading:
1. Engage them with reading material that stimulates their mind and interests
Freedom of choice is a powerful thing to give a child! Let them go and find a title they want and don’t discourage them unless it’s particularly inappropriate.
Make it fun – look for what they find interesting and enjoyable; encourage books relating to ‘their thing’, whether it be gymnastics, frogs or Peppa Pig. Encourage both fiction and non-fiction.
Check out some recommended titles from my reading list for both kids and adults
Boys can be tricky. Their attention span is generally short unless something really grasps their interest. Try this reading list by Read Kiddo Read.
2. Feed their natural curiosity and help them grow intellectually
As kids get older, encourage them to read articles, interesting blogs and newspapers to develop their general knowledge.
I always ensure the students I prepare for 11+ and similar exams are engaging in stimulating reading material that can develop their minds in the way that will stay with them throughout their lives.
Creative writing goes hand in hand with reading. Encourage your children to do imaginative pieces or diary entries. Encourage writing in whatever format: from to-do lists to their own comic strips.
3. Use reading as an opportunity to develop comprehension skills early on
Use reflexive questioning, such as: ‘why do you think that character did that?’
Ask them about their books! Encourage discussions and debates.
Ask them how it made them feel and why.
Ask them about the characters and if they can relate to them.
4. Make it part of their routine
When I assess children, I can automatically discern the readers from the non-readers. Even when children talk, their sentence structure, vocabulary bank and breadth of knowledge positively correlate with how much they read and how young they started reading.
You can make it a more natural part of their routine. Get them reading in the car, on holidays, waiting, just before bed or as a relaxing activity after school.
Encourage kids to carry a book with them in their bags. Leave the iPad out.
Praise them when they do read. Ensure they know that it is a great thing to do and that you approve of it.
5. Be the role model and read together
Read to your children. Don’t make it a chore. Make it bonding time. Make sure the environment is cosy and comfortable. Reading should be associated with a pleasant, peaceful environment where their imagination can really take over.
Parents have a greater influence and arguably responsibility than school in getting their kids to read. I can tell you now; with most of my students that are avid readers, their parents are also avid readers. If they don’t see you reading, what is going to prompt them to read or identify it as normal? Let them see you reading (and enjoying it!)
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