Listening to your child read is key in helping develop their reading skills. But sometimes it can be difficult to find the best way to do this. That’s where we come in. Here are five ways that have been proven to help when you listen to your child read.
1. Let them choose
There’s nothing worse than having something you enjoy taken away from you by making it a chore, or by someone telling you how to do it. It’s the same for a child. Don’t force them into reading a book that they don’t want to read. This could make them resent reading because they associate it with something they HAVE to do rather than they WANT to do.
To help, take them to libraries and let them choose books they like. Even if they choose the same book week after week or they’re choosing books that you feel are too easy for them. Let them take ownership. Try to see that their choice is a good thing, as it shows their love of specific books.
2 Give them time to figure the words out themselves
When they’re reading there are going to be words that they stumble over. Let them try to work it out. Many words in the English language are ‘sound-out-able’ i.e by using the phonics that they have learnt at school, they can say the sounds in the words and then blend the sounds together to make the word.
However some words cannot be sounded out, they are now referred to as “Common Tricky Words”. Unfortunately, phonics can’t help here. Your child just needs plenty of practice seeing these words and reading them ‘on sight’.
So when your child stumbles on a word, after about 4-5 seconds, if it is ‘sound-out-able’ then sound it out for them and then just say the word. If it is not, then just say the word and make sure they repeat it before they carry on.
You could also re-read the whole sentence for them, up to and including the difficult word, so that they don’t lose the flow. If there comes a point in the book where this difficult word comes up again, and they are still struggling with it, that is completely normal. Just go through the whole process again.
It is completely normal for children, when learning new words, to repeatedly struggle over the same word. Although you may see your child remembering it in some contexts but not all. Again, this is completely normal. The most important thing is to stay calm and understanding and try really hard to avoid getting frustrated.
It’s like learning to ride a bicycle. A lot of hard work at the beginning but then with plenty of practice, everything just slots into place.
3 Listen to them read “little and often”
It is much better to listen to them read for 10 minutes every day, than for one hour once a week. The more often a book is read the more your child will remember the words in it. So if you can, put aside some time each day to listen to your child read. It could be a book on their reading scheme, or one that they’ve chosen from the library. It could even be a paragraph from a child-friendly magazine. As long as you’re listening to them read regularly, you’re helping them on their way.
4 Be encouraging and reward effort over ability
Sometimes it’s difficult knowing how to help someone do something you already know how to do. Let them know there’s no rush in figuring words out and that they’ve done really well. If they pronounce a word wrong or can only work out half a word tell them the right word but congratulate them for trying. Tell them that you’re so proud of how they tried to figure it out even if they didn’t get it quite right.
By rewarding effort over ability you’re helping your child develop a good working mindset. One where they feel they can overcome a challenge if they work at it rather than giving up because they don’t think they can do it.
5 Be a reader yourself
One of the best things that can help children get into reading is if their parents read. Studies have shown that children who grow up in houses with books do better at school than other children. It doesn’t even have to be literature, as long as you enjoy it. Children learn how to act from the people around them, and copy what they do. So the more you read, the more they will too.
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