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How to Improve the Reading Skills of Your Child

One of the things that teachers have long known about is that good readers make great students. Recent studies in reading over the past five years have shown that reading activates parts of the brain that mean that students grow in their ability to find, understand and retain information. In fact, it has even been demonstrated that reading fiction improves skills in maths and sciences.


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Therefore, we appreciate that the very best young readers are those that are taught to embrace the written word at school and at home.  At NAIS, reading takes centre-stage at all levels, whether students are learning to sound out letters all the way to students preparing for IB essays and university entrance.  The school is stocked with a huge number of reading books and the Learning Centre is crammed with thousands of titles from fiction and poetry, to reference books and learning resources.  Each of our excellently qualified teachers is trained to ensure that no matter what level your child is at, or whatever their first language might be, that their reading skills are constantly being developed.


Owing to the current circumstances, you might be wondering what you can do form home to support the superb Virtual School Experiences taking place right now. You should be relieved to know that, as parents, you can play a significant role in honing your child’s reading skills. Here are some steps you could take to ensure you’re doing all you can to help your child become a proficient reader.

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Know That Parents Can Make a Difference

Reading isn’t an activity that should just be left to teachers and to time at school. As students grow older, they can sometimes forget that reading is also a pleasurable activity. Reading time between parents and children plays an incredibly important role in the development of a child’s life. It is never too early to spend some quality time reading together.

Reading to your child, even for just a few minutes a day, gives them the comfort of hearing your voice and increases their exposure to language. 

Irrespective of whether your child is only just beginning to learn to read or whether they are fluent, you can play a crucial role in helping to keep them interested in books. Find out what interests them, help them to find books that will be engaging and fun, and spend time reading the books they bring home from school with them.


For older children, it’s also important to engage them in discussions about their reading and have conversations about the themes and issues raised in the texts they are currently reading. All subjects require some form of reading and just asking about it can give a platform to students on which they can try out new ideas or be challenged on some of the concepts raised in their reading.


Make Reading Enjoyable

Central to all your efforts to help your children should be fun. At such a young age, children are incredibly impressionable. If they establish a negative impression of an activity, it can be hard to reverse that attitude as they are guided through their educational years. When you approach reading at home, either before they attend preschool or after, come from a place of enjoyment.

Reading stories and exploring the world around you with words can ignite your child’s imagination in those emergent reading years. When your child begins to develop reading skills, ensure you surround them with exciting material they can explore. 

Make sure you share in that enjoyment. Reading can be a shared experience; dive into the same book and embark on all the twists and turns together. Your child will get a much more fulfilling experience and won’t see reading as a chore.


Don’t Make Learning a Series of Drills

Following on from the above, you can also consider introducing games that are more directly linked to learning to read. What this shouldn’t become is a series of drills. Your child will likely lose interest if it is. Gauge your child’s interests and try to tickle their curiosity with a series of word-related games.  

For younger children, this might be as easy allowing them to spell their name in fun ways. Use magnets to spell it out on the fridge or get arty with some paints or stickers. For older children with greater reading skills, use classic word games like hangman.

Older children studying towards IGCSE or IB exams, can find reading to be a chore. However, you can help them to see that the reading they are doing links to the real world and the issues that we all face as adults.  Simple discussions with questions like “what did you discover in that article?” can help to bring the subject to life. These are central aspects of learning in a classroom but seeing a parent starting to engage with these ideas can bring a whole new dimension to it.




Expand Reading Opportunities

To help expand a child’s understanding of everyday life, reading can be pushed well beyond books alone. Everything from menus in a restaurant to words on road signs can be harnessed to expand a child’s vocabulary.

Not only does it help children learn new words, it places them within a real-world context. In addition to learning a new word, they will be able to see an example of how it’s used. 

There are plenty of resources that can directly help to inflame a child’s imagination through reading. Take your child to the local library and let them pick out some books that attract their attention or take a good advantage of our school library.

For older children allow them to take the lead in their chosen books. If they like books about vampires, let them read them, are they into sports? Well, let them choose some autobiographies from their heroes. Allow them to have magazine or newspaper subscriptions and encourage them to take an interest in the wider world.

At NAIS Pudong, each and every teacher is firmly committed to the idea that in order to produce the next generation of world-class thinkers, we need to create interested and enthusiastic readers. From the moment students begin their journey with is at NAIS, we surround them with the written word in all its glory.