Promoting parental engagement: how to get your learners reading more

Reading is (and always has been) an integral part of my life. Whether it’s an audiobook, eBook or a glorious hard-back, there’s never been a time that I’ve not had a book on the go. From repeatedly ploughing through ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ in infancy to devouring Harry Potter through my adolescence and ‘Eleanor Oliphant is absolutely fine’ in my university years. Books have been like a comfortable pair of slippers that’s seen me through my entire life.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been born to enthusiastic readers. Before I’d even taken my first breath my mum was poised and ready with books to read to me.  

So, naturally the only path for me to take was to become an English teacher, right?

Well, it was a toss-up between nursing and teaching but decided the night-shift life wasn’t for me so pursued a Secondary English PGCE instead. Nine years later, I’m still teaching English. But my lessons look nothing like those from my NQT years.

Throughout this time, I’ve come to truly understand the importance of reading and the impact a love of books can have on young people’s lives. And I feel it is important for this to be shared. 

  1. Why is reading at home so important? 
  2. How can we put the love back into reading?
  3. Why parental engagement with reading is important
  4. How to encourage parental engagement with reading
  5. Child-centred reading makes for happy reading
  6. Routine, reward, repeat
  7. Is it actually possible for every learner to enjoy reading?
  8. Top tips for educators to help parents promote a love of reading and reading for pleasure at home
  9. Benefits of reading across home and school 

Why is reading at home so important? 

Many students today are struggling in school. One of the main reasons for this is that they have not found a love of reading that can help them with their schoolwork and throughout their lives. Reading is a critical skill that students need to succeed in school and beyond. In order to help improve student success, parents must be engaged in their children’s education and make reading a priority at home. There are many ways that parents can promote reading and help their children succeed in school. 

Parents who are actively engaged in their children’s education tend to have children who perform better in school and are more likely to develop a love of reading. This is why it is important for parents to be involved with their children’s education and to encourage reading at home.

Overall, parental engagement with reading is very important for promoting student success in reading and in other subjects. 

How can we put the love back into reading?

You’re probably lucky enough to have happy childhood memories of bedtime stories, library cards and trips to the bookshop. All of this combined with a book-filled home and perhaps an inspirational role model has led to you being the reader you are today, right?

The habits you have as an adult are built on the experiences you had in childhood. Whilst a large part of your childhood is spent at school, an even larger part is spent in the home. Teachers put up the scaffolding but it’s the parents who lay the foundations. If the foundations aren’t solid, then the scaffolding won’t fit, and the building may not withstand the pressures it’s expected to.

In order to be successful in helping learners to find a love of reading, it is important for students to read often, across home and school. This is why parental engagement with reading is so important. 

But, with 43% of parents saying they don’t have time to read with their children, it can be tricky to convince them of the importance of their role in your learners’ reading journeys. This article hopes to shed some light on how best you can promote parental engagement with reading, so that your learners can experience the same positive home reading environment that I once did! 

Why parental engagement with reading is important

Where possible, parents and carers should make sure they are actively engaged in learners’ educations across the board. This includes checking in with teachers regularly, attending school events, and helping with homework when needed. By promoting parental engagement with reading, parents can help their children achieve success in school and develop a lifelong love of reading. Furthermore, reading with parents and carers at home is an activity that can help learners to feel safe and connected to the world. 

One of the most important things a parent can do to help their child succeed in school is to promote reading at home. This can be done in many ways, such as setting a good example by reading regularly making time for reading activities each day and having books available in the home.

Parents can also help foster a love of reading in their children by exposing them to a variety of types of books, from picture books to chapter books. It’s also important to discuss the books that are read together, and to ask questions about the story or characters.

All of this is easier said than done, and parents may need a little added support from educators to get there! 

Help the parents first…

I genuinely believe if we take the pressure off parents and make reading a relaxing, flexible and fun activity, it’s bound to be reciprocated by their children.

Reading doesn’t have to be sitting at the kitchen table reading Biff and Chip. Reading goes beyond the pages of a book. It can be as simple as spending time with your child. Making the time to have discussions, asking and answering questions, observing and critiquing their environment. It’s role play, noticing pictures on the wall, interesting displays, creative thinking, storytelling, and audiobooks! The list goes on (check out my other blogs and guides for more tips on this).

How to encourage parental engagement with reading

Here are a few things to consider when encouraging your parents to read with learners at home:  

Parents best tool is to set a good example by reading themselves

One of the best ways to encourage learners to read is for parents to set a good example themselves. Making reading a priority at home and showing learners that books can be read for fun is paramount. Talking with learners about the books being read and giving them insight into how much pleasure can be taken from reading is key. 

Perhaps as an educator, you could share your own reading list to provide inspiration for parents who haven’t picked up a book in a while.  

Little and often! 

Parents should try to read with their children every day and discuss what they have read, this doesn’t need to be a long reading session to be effective. As time is often a huge barrier for parents, emphasising that the expectation is not to read for hours and hours is key. 

Child-centred reading makes for happy reading

Any parent knows that if their child feels in control, that’s (almost) half the battle won. I’ve learned the same applies to reading. Although this method has shot me in the foot many times – I’ve found myself reading the same Horrid Henry book over and over to one of my learners – if the learner is excited and invested in the story, they’re more likely to stick with it and not reach for that pesky iPad…

Routine, reward, repeat

Every learner needs routine (even if they may resist it sometimes). I’ve come to see that this is essential to getting into the habit of reading too. Slotting in a story to your daily routine not only means there’s consistency but it also means the learner doesn’t know any different. They’ll come to expect reading as a part of every-day life.

James Clear puts it perfectly in Atomic HabitsA very small shift in direction can lead to a significant change in destination.”

Many of my learners start their day with a story as it’s an excellent mood stabiliser. As a result, some of them now reach for books in times of stress or anxiety.

Be sure to praise your child for their efforts when it comes to reading. Let them know how proud you are of them and offer words of encouragement. This will help motivate them to keep reading and build a stronger love of reading. 

Ensuring that the act of reading always feels like a reward and never a chore will ensure learners associate positive emotions towards it in the future. In other words, if they’re not in a good place, don’t throw a book in their face. Save it for when they’re calmer.

Is it actually possible for every learner to enjoy reading?

Ideally, parents should feel supported and empowered when it comes to their child’s reading. They should have access to a ready and waiting list of accurate recommendations for their child. Parents simply don’t have the time to sift through the best sellers. They need a book that’s catered to their child’s needs, preferences, and abilities. All of these reasons (and a few more) is why Reading Mate exists.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that no learner dislikes reading; they simply haven’t found the right book yet.

Ability shouldn’t have any impact on a learner’s access to reading and literacy. Four years of working with learners who have extremely complex needs has taught me that.

There are some learners who find reading difficult or lack confidence. This doesn’t have to be a permanent state of mind. All we need to do to establish what they enjoy, and I can guarantee there’s a book waiting for them to fall in love with.

Top tips for educators to help parents promote a love of reading and reading for pleasure at home 

1.Make time for reading every day. Dedicate at least 10 minutes each day to reading together as a family or in pairs.

2. Set aside a specific area in the home for reading—make it cute and cosy! 

3. Make sure that learners see their parents reading for pleasure. 

4. Have reading materials readily available in the home, recommend a library card to keep costs down.

5. Read with learners regularly to build a routine.

6. Discussions of the books that have been read together are so important! After you finish a book, take some time to discuss it with your child. Ask them about their favourite parts, what they found confusing, and what they think the characters should have done differently.

7. Read aloud to learners at home. Reading aloud is a great way to introduce new books and help improve your child’s literacy skills, even if it’s just reading a road sign or the back of a cereal box.

8 .Set goals together as a family to encourage literacy skills .

Benefits of reading across home and school 

There are many benefits of promoting student success through reading, one of them being that it can help improve their academic performance. Reading allows children to learn new information and develop their vocabulary, which can give them a boost in other subjects. Additionally, reading can help students learn to think critically and problem-solve, both of which are valuable skills for academic success.

In addition to academic benefits, promoting reading can also help instill a love of reading in children. When parents read to their children or allow them to read independently, they are exposing them to the joys of reading. This can encourage children to read for pleasure on their own, which can lead to a lifelong love of books.

Overall, promoting student success through reading has many benefits, both academic and personal. By making reading a priority in your home, you can help your child achieve success in school and foster a lifelong love of reading.

Conclusion 

Parental engagement with reading is one of the most important things you can do to help your child succeed in school. Reading at home helps children develop a love of reading, which can carry over into their academic careers. You can promote parental engagement with a reading by setting a good example and making time for reading in your household. If you make reading a priority, your child will likely follow suit. We hope this article has given you some ideas on how to get started promoting parental engagement with reading in your own home!

Would you like to promote parental engagement in your school? Reading Hub can help you!

Related articles:
https://readingmate.co.uk/5-tips-for-learning-how-to-read-books/
Co-founder Hannah Rix
Written by Co-founder, Hannah Rix

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