Reading is a lifelong skill that not only supports academic success but can open up your child to new people, places and ideas. It’s also an essential component of academi success – espeially in competitive 11 Plus exams and even GCSE exams. Unfortunately, parents often overlook the importance of early reading and sometimes struggle to encourage their children to make time for books in today’s tech-obsessed world. While it’s true that screens are everywhere, here are some simple tips to help motivate young readers and foster a love of reading in your home.
1. Understand the importance of your child’s reading
Reading is one way that you can help your child develop and exercise their imagination. It has also been shown to improve literacy, maths skills as well cognitive development for children of all ages. Just a little bit of reading each day can be very beneficial for your child.
2. Read aloud regularly
Make an effort to read with your child every day. Whether you are reading to them or letting them read to you, it is a wonderful, relaxing time to spend with one another. You could encourage their imagination and come up with funny voices and characteristics for each of the characters to make reading even more entertaining.
3. Encourage reading choice
A great thing about reading is that there is something to suit every child’s tastes. Whether they like fiction or non-fiction, magazines or comics, there is bound to be reading material that they will have an interest in. Even the simplest of opportunities for reading can arise around the home – perhaps your child will enjoy helping you with baking a cake by reading through the recipe.
4. Read together
Reading can always be made into a group activity that all of the family can enjoy. You could all read the same book together, or read different books that each of you enjoy and discuss them all afterwards.
The time to read with your child may be difficult – with juggling family life, work and everything else in between, both parents and children can be exhausted by the end of the school day. This can make reading a bone of contention that many parents try to avoid. Over the long term, this can have a negative impact on a child’s progress in reading.
But there is a way around this – using group reading sessions, where children can explore different books with their peers. It makes it more fun and engaging for them, and does not feel like they are being forced to do it with a parent.
5. Create a comfortable environment
Make sure the area you dedicate to reading is calm and comfortable. Reading should be a relaxing activity, and as your children will be learning in the process, it should be a place that will help them focus easily and not get distracted.
6. Make use of your local library
Your local library is a great resource to encourage reading of lots of different materials, so you want to make the most of it. They also offer online resources such as audiobooks and ebooks, which makes reading even more accessible wherever you are. Libraries Connected is a very helpful website for you to learn more about what your local library can offer.
7. Talk about books
Talking about what you’re reading is a great way to develop understanding and increase enthusiasm about the material. The great thing about discussing books is you can start before you’ve even read the first sentence – try talking about the front cover to see if you can determine any of the plot or themes before you get started. And as you read more, you can discuss more of your thoughts and feelings about what happens in the story – perhaps what has surprised you or what emotions you may have felt while reading.
8. Bring reading to life
Bringing what you have read to life can make reading more memorable and enjoyable. For example, there are blogs online which share recipes for dishes that appear in many children’s stories, such as Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake in Matilda. Or you may wish to bring a particular character to life by holding an interview with either you or your child answering the questions as the character.
9. Make reading active
Reading is more than just sitting down with a book. Make reading active by playing games to do with the book that you’re reading, such as creating a treasure hunt around the house including relevant objects. You could also create a personalised book for your child about a day in their life by using photos of them doing their daily activities, or you could make a book about a special day out such as a trip to the zoo.
10. Engage your child in reading in a way that suits them
Finally, an important factor to consider when you are helping your child with their reading is that all children are different. You will know your child best, and will therefore know which of these tips will be most beneficial for encouraging them. Some children with special educational needs and difficulties (SEND) may enjoy shorter, more creative activities that will hold their interest for longer periods. Other children may only speak English as a second language, so may need support in their first language as well as in English. At the end of the day, what is most important with reading is that they enjoy it.
If you feel that you and your child need a bit more support when it comes to reading, an online course can be very beneficial. We highly recommend our online weekly reading club – the Geek School Classics Reader Club, which is tailored specifically for children in years 3, 4, 5 and 6 who may also be preparing for their 11 Plus Exams. This course includes a weekly session for your child to take part in online, which involves a fun and interactive take on reading tasks, such as understanding more complicated texts and learning new vocabulary. Click the link below to find out more information about the Classics Reader Club.