As a teacher I’m always telling parents one of the most important things you can do to help your child at school is to read with them regularly. Reading with your child doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down every night to hear them read their school book, it can also mean reading them a bedtime story, playing a word game, looking for print in the environment . . .
As a parent I know it can be hard to find the time, or motivation, to sit down and make your child read the same school book every day when they’re tired and really not very interested. Ben is now into his second year of full time school it is a real pleasure to watch him learning to read for himself however he can’t always be bothered to sit and read his books to me.
So here’s our top tips for reading with your little one:
1. Don’t force it
There’s no point reading with them if they’re not in the mood. Choose the right time to do it – when they’re desperate to do something else is not going to be the one. Straight home from school isn’t always ideal either as they’ve just spent all day learning and need a break. You know your child and your own routines best. Find a time when you can both concentrate on doing a good job otherwise you’re just going to waste your time and put them off for next time.
2. Make it seem like a treat not a chore
It’s all about how you sell it. “Right Ben we’ve got to get this reading done” versus “Ooh Ben you’ve got a new reading book, shall we have a look at it together” . . . We always do his reading cuddled up on the sofa together and I use it as an opportunity to give him a bit of fuss and make sure I’m really focused on what he’s doing rather than half listening while I’m doing something else.
3. Play games
There’s loads of games out there to help with reading, particularly with learning high frequency or “tricky” words. (Have a look at the parent section on Twinkl as a good starting point for ideas) We have a number of phonics games or flash cards – a particular favourite is Orchard Toys – Alphabet Lotto which Ben got for his birthday.
4. Read a bedtime story – every night
Every time you sit down together to share that bedtime story you are helping your child with their own reading. You’re modelling what a good reader looks like – setting them the right example and teaching them valuable book skills.
5. Don’t just read books
Read things when you’re out and about, for example notice car registration plates What sound does that letter make? Can you think of a word that starts with that sound?” Read signs and talk about what they mean. Ben is often trying to read words on vans or road signs when we’re in the car – it keeps him occupied!
Basically just do it. Just do it and enjoy it.