“What Can I Do to Help My Child to Read Better?”
As an experienced teacher, this is a question that I hear frequently from parents. I love that parents are so eager to help their child to learn to read. In our conversations, I tell parents all the time that they are their child’s first teachers. Now I know parents are already juggling demands at work and home and there never seems enough time. However, I wanted to share tips and ideas to help you confidently support your child’s reading at home and encourage a lifelong love of learning. Your influence with reading support will help your child read more fluently. Let’s learn fun ways to help a child learn to read!
How to Motivate Your Child and Foster a Love of Reading
As the craze for downloadable action games such as Fortnite and Minecraft dominates the free time of children around the world, parents, you may be asking yourself how you can encourage your child to read? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see your child be as excited to read as they are to play their video games?
Above all, the key is not to force it too much; this will have the opposite effect and turn children off.
First, progress in literacy requires motivation and engagement, which will help children to develop persistence and enjoyment in their reading. The tips below can help you to instill a love of reading in your child. If your child loves playing computer games or watching movies, then do some research to find out if there are books based on it. If your child is already familiar with something and enjoys it then it will be easier to engage them in reading about it.
Second, allow your child choice over what they read. If they decide to read comic strips, then that is okay! When children have choice over what they read, they find books that they love and then will be inspired to hold conversations about such books. It is also important to remember that reading is a habit and as long as your child is in the habit of picking up something to read then it doesn’t really matter what they’re reading. After all, reading is for entertainment and enjoyment – it is your job as a parent to help foster this.
Third, download the Children’s Choices, Teachers’ Choices, and Young Adults’ Choices reading lists for high-quality, popular titles selected by students and educators alike.
5 Finger Rule to Help Your Child Read More Fluently
Have you ever tried to stumble through a book that is too hard for you? It’s not fun! We don’t want our children to struggle with books that are too hard for them, only to frustrate them! Instead, use the 5-finger rule when trying to decide if a book is suitable for your child’s reading level. This will help your child read more fluently. Before they start, ask them to turn to a random page in the book and read it. Each time they come to an unknown word, hold up one finger. If all 5 fingers are up before finishing the page, the book is probably too hard.
The Power of Reading Aloud
Creating time for reading aloud to your child will benefit your child’s literacy skills immensely. Reading aloud to your child happens most often when your child is young, but it is important to realise that older children also reap numerous benefits from parent led read-alouds.
In the early stages, parents reading aloud to their children will help emergent readers to understand how to hold a book, where the text starts, the structure of a story, and expressive language. Reading aloud to your child will also pique their interest in stories and motivate your child to become independent readers.
As children get older, having an adult read aloud will build background knowledge, strengthen and develop vocabulary, and provide opportunities for meaningful discussion. Again, adults can also model effective comprehension strategies whilst reading aloud. If you are looking for examples of comprehension strategies and questions to support then download my parent reading guide here.
Apps to Help Your Child to Read
Reading apps can be a very useful tool for encouraging children to read. Children are very eager to spend time on iPads or tablets and reading apps are a great way to keep your child engaged and learning at the same time. Many families go on holiday and are unable to bring any books with them due to luggage restrictions. Reading apps remove this problem and allow your child to have access to thousands of digital books at their fingertips.
Melissa Taylor writes in Brightly, “There are many reading apps out there, though, and they’re not all created equal. We cut through the noise to find you the best reading apps for your kids.” Check out her post to find a description of the many different apps available to support reading
One reading app that I particularly like is Kids A-Z. I have used it as a reading support tool whilst teaching in the classroom and I was amazed at the motivation from all of my students to read at home. The built-in motivational rewards are a great hook in getting children to open the app and the interactive reading platform makes reading fun for children.
Having witnessed the many benefits of this reading platform, this is a service that I choose to offer my Mighty Minds Tutoring students. Each child receives their own log-in, and they have access to thousands of leveled books and corresponding quizzes. My students are able to access the books anytime, anywhere. I am able to easily track each child’s reading progress with digital reports. I also do monthly reading challenges which have been great at motivating children to read as many books as they can each month.
How to Help Your Child Read More Fluently
You may be unsure what reading fluency actually is so here is a quote to help you better understand the meaning. Fluency may be defined as “reasonably accurate reading, at an appropriate rate, with suitable expression, that leads to accurate and deep comprehension and motivation to read” (Hasbrouch & Glaser, 2021, p. 13).
Unfortunately, many children struggle with fluency. This makes reading a very negative experience and can lead to children shying away from reading for the rest of their lives.
When children are younger, they are encouraged to read and re-read the same shorter books time and time again. This is important for developing speed, fluency and intonation when reading. Once a child is able to read without stumbling over words, he/she can focus on comprehension.
If you are concerned that your child has to stop and sound out words frequently and as a result does not understand what the passage was about, then download my ultimate parent guide to reading to find out how you can help.
How to Help Your Child to Read with Comprehension
Comprehension is one of the main purposes of teaching children to read. This is a skill that needs to be taught and when children are taught effective comprehension strategies, their memory of text improves.
As your child is beginning to read, comprehension is secondary to decoding and word recognition but still needs to be taught. At this stage, it is best to introduce the strategies to your child orally when listening to your child read or when reading aloud to your child.
One of the major problems that children encounter in comprehension questions is that they do not always understand what the question is asking. This is why it is so important to always begin with oral work, before expecting your child to complete written comprehension questions.
I have put together a guide to help you develop your child’s comprehension skills. Click here, to get the guide emailed to you for free!
In conclusion, I hope my top tips ensure you are feeling confident to support your child with their reading. You should now have the tools necessary to help your child to read.
If you are wondering what to do next, you can download my free parents guide to reading here. I created this reading support guide to empower parents and guardians to help their children with homework and reading. It is equipped with information, activities and suggestions for helping your child to read at home.