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Top 10 Tips for Parents to Support Children with Reading

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1. Encourage your child to read

Reading helps your child’s wellbeing, develops imagination and has educational benefits too. Just a few minutes a day can have a big impact on children of all ages.


The million word gap!

Research shows: 

Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter EYFS having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to, a new study found.


This "million word gap" could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development, said Jessica Logan, lead author of the study and assistant professor of educational studies at The Ohio State University.


Even children who are read only one book a day will hear about 290,000 more words by age 5 than those who don't regularly read books with a parent or caregiver.


2. Read aloud regularly

Try to read to your child every day. It’s a special time to snuggle up and enjoy a story. Stories matter and children love re-reading them and poring over the pictures. Try adding funny voices to bring characters to life.


Research indicates:

setting aside time daily to read to and with your child can substantially increase their reading abilities in many areas, including:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Vocabulary skills
  • Learning to recognise words that they already know
  • Learning to sound out unfamiliar words


If your child has not yet learned to read, incorporating a daily story time routine into their schedule will instil the importance of reading that they will hopefully continue to appreciate as they learn to read on their own.

As your child does learn to read on their own, you can continue your daily or nightly story time together. Gradually shift the reading responsibilities to your child so that they are reading to you instead of the other way around. This will encourage them to read without your assistance, but allow them to do so in an environment where you are still able to help them to decipher unfamiliar or difficult words.


3. Encourage reading choice

Give children lots of opportunities to read different things in their own time - it doesn’t just have to be books. There’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, magazines, recipes and much more. Try leaving interesting reading material in different places around the home and see who picks it up. Lure your child into stories by having books on shelves or in baskets in rooms throughout your home. Having books at their reading level available in the car, in the bathroom, next to their bed, and even in the living room next to the TV will signal to your child that reading is important and easily accessible.


Another way to encourage your child to read is to lead by example.

Parents are the ultimate role models for their children, and yours are likely to emulate the behaviour that you display. If your child sees you reading before bed every night then they are more likely to do the same. Likewise, when your child sees you reading for your own pleasure, they will see first-hand that reading is about enjoyment and not just about learning.


4. Read together

Choose a favourite time to read together as a family and enjoy it. This might be everyone reading the same book together, reading different things at the same time, or getting your children to read to each other - older children may enjoy the confidence of reading younger books to younger siblings. Adults are so important as good role models when they read to their children. They hear good examples of expression, pace and fluency. This time spent reading together can be relaxing for all.


5. Create a comfortable environment

Make a calm, comfortable place for your family to relax and read independently - or together.


6. Make use of your local library

Libraries in England are able to open from 4 July, so visit them when you’re able to and explore all sorts of reading ideas. Local libraries also offer brilliant online materials, including audiobooks and e-books to borrow. See Libraries Connected for more digital library services and resources.


7. Talk about books

This is a great way to make connections, develop understanding and make reading even more enjoyable. Start by discussing the front cover and talking about what it reveals and suggests the book could be about. Then talk about what you’ve been reading and share ideas. You could discuss something that happened that surprised you, or something new that you found out. You could talk about how the book makes you feel and whether it reminds you of anything.


8. Bring reading to life - especially if your child is a reluctant reader at the moment.

Not all reluctant readers can be encouraged to read books. However there are plenty of other ways to ensure that they continue to read.  Your child does not have to open a book to enhance their reading skills – there are plenty of things to read in the world around them!


Here are a few techniques that you can try to encourage your child to improve and utilise their reading skills:

  • If your child asks to go see a movie, ask them to look up the movie times for you
  • If your child loves to help you make dinner, let them select a recipe from a favourite cook book and read the steps to you. (If you are modifying the recipe, this is also a great way to help your child to improve their maths skills!)
  • Encourage your child to read road signs, weather reports, store hours of operation, or e-mails from other family members.


Incorporating reading into activities that your child loves, and showing them the ways in which reading is integral to their everyday life, will encourage them to continue to improve their skills.


9. Make reading active

Play games that involve making connections between pictures, objects and words, such as reading about an object and finding similar things in your home. You could organise treasure hunts related to what you’re reading. Try creating your child’s very own book by using photos from your day and adding captions.


10. Engage your child in reading in a way that suits them

You know your child best and you’ll know the best times for your child to read. If they have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) then short, creative activities may be the way to get them most interested. If English is an additional language, encourage reading in a child’s first language, as well as in English. What matters most is that they enjoy it! smiley

Tips for all adults when reading with children:

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