Helping your child to read

When it comes to helping your child to read follow some simple tips to get the most out of your time together.

Getting started – you will need…

  • Books from home, school or the library, selected by your child – or ask your child's teacher for ideas. Your child will soon get used to picking books that are the right level. Only read books your child is interested in.
  • Time to do paired reading, regularly. Aim for five minutes every day and no more than 15 minutes unless your child wants to. If you don't have time perhaps an older brother or sister or other relative can help.
  • A quiet, comfortable place for the two of you to read in.

Different methods of reading to try

Paired reading

This is a good way for parents to help their children read and involves you and your child saying words out loud together. Match your speed to your child's. When your child does not know a word or tries and gets it wrong:

  • say the right word
  • make sure they say it right as well.

Your child needs to look at the words. Also encourage your child to point to each word as you read it together. Paired reading is suitable for younger children and also older poor readers.

A paired reading diary

Keep a note each day in a paired reading diary of what's been read and how your child is getting on. Most schools provide a reading diary for parents to use to support home learning. If your child has done well, include this in the diary. Your child can show this to the teacher for extra praise, which can help make your child keen.

Talk and listen 

  • Show interest in the book they have chosen.
  • Go through the whole book before reading it and talk about the pictures.
  • Talk about what's in the book at the end of each page or section.
  • Ask your child what they think might happen next.
  • Listen to the answers you child gives and what they have to say.

Going solo

When you are reading together but your child wants to read out loud alone, agree on a signal they can give you to keep quiet – one that won't interrupt their concentration, for example, a knock, sign or squeeze. When your child gives you that sign, go quiet straight away but if they try for more than five seconds or get things wrong, read the right word aloud for them. Make sure your child says the right word when reading it with you and carry on reading together until your child is confident to try alone again.

Reading alone

Another option is for your child to read alone out loud. If they are unsure of the word you say it and then they carry on reading. Every time your child struggles, you say the word and leave your child to carry on.

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