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Helping your child learn to read

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Helping your child learn to read is undoubtedly a rewarding experience; it doesn’t matter if you view reading as an essential skill, a fabulous form of escapism or a mixture of both, there’s no denying that it is one of the most important and well-used skills we learn as children.  But just like anything else, some kids pick it up in no time while others may struggle or just not seem interested.


Whether your child has already developed a love of literature or is struggling or reluctant to get into reading, it is never a bad thing to encourage them to further their vocabulary and delve into new and exciting worlds.  It may not seem like the easiest task to persuade a child to sit quietly still for a while but there are loads of ways to help make reading fun and ensure your kids gain not only the knowledge they’ll need throughout life but also a vivid imagination and a love of books.

Share books together

Even the youngest baby loves to share a book with mummy or daddy.  Obviously at this stage it’s not so much about literature but making the time to sit down together and open a book is a great way to bond.  Baby will love listening to a parent read and it’s a brilliant habit to get into.  Equally, older children love spending time being read to and showing off their developing reading skills. It really is never too late to start sharing books together.helping your child to learn to read

Allow your child to choose the book and snuggle up with each other to read and chat about what’s happening in the story.  If you work full time and struggle to fit it in then bedtime stories are a great way to spend quality time with your child, give her a chance to wind down and help her with reading all at the same time.

Let your child choose what to read

Children (especially toddlers) are likely to pick the same book over and over again and this is fine.  The repetition actually helps them become fluent readers and, while you might be ready to throw The Gruffalo out the window after the twentieth reading, your child will reap the rewards in the long run.  Older kids also benefit from choosing their own reading material.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a comic, a book about spaceships or a novel, as long as it’s targeted to their reading level.  The idea is to get them interested in reading and if something engages them it’s worth its weight in gold.  If you have a reluctant reader then try sidestepping books in favour of reading online.  From interviews with a favourite band to football results, there’s bound to be something there to pique their interest.

Don’t push too hard

While you want your child to be challenged and improve her reading skills, you don’t want her to get frustrated and lose interest.  If you were to pick up a book and only understood three quarters of the words in it, you’d be unlikely to continue reading it and kids are no different.  An appropriate book is one where the reader cannot fluently read only around 5% of the words.  This is enough to keep the literature challenging, yet a small enough amount that the book is still enjoyable to read.   If you’re not sure then ask the class teacher, a librarian or your child’s friends for suitable recommendations.

Play games

Learning to read isn’t just about books and magazines.  Playing phonics games is a great way to help a child learn language skills.  There are loads of websites and apps out there with phonics games to keep kids entertained at the same time as teaching them.  Word searches, puzzles and games like ‘Hangman’ are all fun ways to help improve spelling and reading.  Even a game of ‘I Spy’ in the car will encourage children to think about letters and sounds.

Enjoy it!

The best example you can set your children when it comes to learning to read is to let them see that you enjoy reading to them and listening to them read to you.  The more fun you have choosing books and reading together, the more likely your child is to go on to enjoy reading on their own.




About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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