Tips to support children’s reading skills at home
At the Good Play Guide, we want to celebrate the joy of reading. While every child is different, being able to read and write is something that every child should be able to learn, to best equip them to succeed in life.
Reading is also an activity that can bring children inspiration, understanding and even comfort. In fact, research carried out by the Literacy Trust found that during the school closures in 2020, 3 in 5 children and young people discovered that reading made them feel better and that children’s enjoyment of reading increased during lockdown. This shows just how important it is for us to help our children make the most of reading.
As September brings the return of children to school after the summer break, you may be wondering what you can do at home to best help your child boost their confidence with their reading and literacy skills.
In order to become successful in literacy, children need the support to develop their skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Read on below for some of our top tips in helping your child build their reading and literacy confidence…
Nurture a love of reading
By making reading a part of your daily life and routine for all of the family, children will learn to love it. Visit the library together and allow them to choose one book a week, and dedicate one fixed time each day (whether that’s half an hour in the afternoon or 20 minutes before bedtime) where everybody turns off their screens and does nothing but read.
One of the best rules to remember is, “if you want to raise a reader, be a reader yourself”. While you may have let your interest in reading fall to the wayside as life, work and various commitments have gotten in the way, by placing a priority on making reading a relaxing and rewarding activity in your own life, you set a great example for your child to follow.
Making it enjoyable will ensure that it becomes a regular part of your family routine – you can provide some special ‘reading snacks’ or if the book has been made into a film, you can challenge them to read the book version, before digging into some popcorn and watching the film version together.
This has numerous other benefits including helping your bond, providing a screen-free practice before bedtime (which helps them to sleep better) and also developing their memory and attention as they remember the plot from one day to the next.
Help reading comprehension by asking questions about the story
When your child reads a book, encourage them to retell the story or information in their own words. For example, ask “who it was about?”, or “what happened?”.
This teaches comprehension, which is important because reading is not just about sounding out words, but also thinking about and remembering different ideas and events. Improving these skills early helps as they progress to more complex and challenging stories and books.
For younger children and toddlers, although they might not seem engaged by the words, you can also ask what they see in the pictures. Pointing at things and inviting them to explain or narrate the action is also a great way to develop their literacy skills, as it requires listening, understanding and speaking.
Play word games and activities that make practicing reading skills fun
Playing word games can show children that playing and moving around letters and words is fun. By deconstructing words, it can also help them to focus on the sounds that different letters and words make.
Games and apps that can make practicing reading skills fun can have some great results when used regularly, as providing opportunities for your child to practice will also help to build their confidence in their literacy skills.
Interactive apps like the Reading Eggs Learn to Read all-access plan help children to develop their reading ability by providing colourful animations, interactive activities, fun songs, and exciting rewards that help children to stay on track with their reading and phonics.
Reading Eggs offers an annual combined subscription that grows with children, providing access to five learning programmes suitable for children aged 2-13, including Reading Eggs Junior, Reading Eggs, Reading Eggspress, Fast Phonics as well as a numeracy programme called Mathseeds.
Children are able to take part in lessons, activities, and games designed by experienced educators to teach them essential reading, phonics, and maths skills in a fun and motivating way.
What we particularly like about the app is that children are able to progress at their own pace, with the app allowing children to choose a particular activity to focus on that they need extra practice in. For example, if your little one is struggling with phonics, they can focus on these specific activities and games to help improve their skills.
Parents are also able to look at a detailed assessment report of their progress to see how far their child has come and to help inform what they should focus on for their future learning goals.
In addition to apps, simple word games are also a great way to get children thinking about the construction of words and sentences, here are some ideas:
- Using letter blocks, magnet letters or cut up letters, provide your child with a group of letters and challenge them to make up as many different words as they can. As they progress their skills, you could increase the challenge with more complex tasks such as ‘words with two syllables’.
- Take turns coming up with different words that rhyme such as ‘go’ and ‘no’, ‘bat’ and ‘cat’ and ‘house’ and ‘mouse’.
- Recite nursery rhymes and songs. This helps with learning to read as it encourages children to listen to the different sounds of word parts and helps children to start to identify the different syllables in words, as well as identify words that rhyme.
Complete activity workbooks at home
Having some activity workbooks on hand at home can be ideal for keeping your child motivated in their learning and help them to improve their skills. They are particularly useful for providing extra support to build confidence in concepts they are learning at school.
The Reading Eggs Essential Skills Reading Workbook covers a whole year of learning which means that children can work through them gradually, at their own pace. It helps to build skills in the key components of literacy, including phonics, phonological awareness, handwriting, and reading comprehension.
As they progress through the workbook, you are both able to see their progress which gives you an understanding of where they are at in their learning and what they may need more practice or support in.
Should they need extra practice in a particular area, you can also pick out particular activities and lessons to focus on such as phonics or spelling. Learning reviews and quizzes throughout provide children with a milestone to work towards and a sense of achievement when they see how far they have come.
Learning to read is an important part of your child’s development and it can develop into a really enjoyable and rewarding hobby as they get older too. It is important to remember that learning to read isn’t just about sounding out words and putting together sentences, but also about thinking about and understanding stories and information.
Home is an ideal place to help your child build their confidence with reading and improve their skills, so use some of our recommended tips and activities to help nurture their literacy and love of reading.
For further resources and support to improve literacy skills, the National Literacy Trust is an independent charity dedicated to giving all families and children the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.
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