Top Tips for Parents
Rebecca and her colleague, Stephanie Smailes (Primary English Teacher), have teamed up to create these tips to help you support your child's reading:
Does your child ever see you reading? This might sound simple, but I cannot emphasise it enough: if you want your child to read, you must show them what a reader looks like. Children need to have reading modelled to them, so consider how you could build some reading time into your family life – whether in the evenings, weekends or during holidays – so that your child sees that you value and enjoy reading.
2) Ask about what they are reading
It’s amazing what you can find out about a young person in an animated conversation about a book. Talk to them about what they are reading, and you may be surprised by the insights that they have.
3) Don’t dictate their reading choices
My brother Joe hated reading growing up – he was much more interested in playing, watching and discussing sport. It was only when my parents gave him Steven Gerrard’s autobiography for his 12th birthday that he saw any benefit in picking up a book. Now he has shelves full of sporting autobiographies – and won’t stop talking about them! If your child is into Marvel films, then encourage them to read graphic novels. If they love computer games, you could consider getting them a subscription to a games magazine. If students begin to see reading as an extension of a hobby or passion they already have, they will not see it as an arduous task but instead as something they enjoy.
4) Give them books in their home language
Students will gain so much from learning to enjoy reading whatever language the book is in. Even if the book is not in English, it will still benefit their knowledge of characters, structure and description which will undoubtedly have positive effects at school.
5) Give them books appropriate to their age and level
Children and teenagers often disengage from a book if they feel it is aimed at a younger audience. If your child is new to English, then Barrington Stokes is a great publisher for teenagers: their content is aimed at secondary students, but the reading age is much lower. Ask your child’s school whether they have books suited to non-native speakers and have a look on Amazon too.
6) Practise everywhere
For younger learners, there are countless opportunities to practise reading and reading skills. Point out signs and letters wherever you see them. Help your child to develop inference skills by encouraging them to infer meaning from what they know about the world around them. For example, if the traffic lights are red, ask them what colours will come next and what they mean. If the clouds are grey and dark, encourage them to predict what might happen next. This skill will help them when they read stories.
7) Make books available
A dearth of books is a barrier to reading. Make sure you have books available all the time; with their toys, in the car, in their bedroom. It’s a great way to encourage them to reach for a book when they have time to fill.