What does good reading with your child home look like?

Parents are the masters of multi-tasking. Cooking dinner and calling the in-laws, feeding one child, and reading a story to another, they’re quite literally spinning every plate, juggling every ball, and standing on one leg. And tackling the ever-increasing homework schedule is another load that’s almost impossible to manage.

Why’s it so important to read at home?

  • Building and maintaining strong relationships – setting aside a dedicated time to read with your child not only ensures consistency but it also demonstrates your investment and attention towards them. Reading together provides a shared experience that both parent and child can look forward to.
  • Develop empathy – engaging with and learning about other people, cultures and experiences broadens children’s minds to the world around them.
  • Supports cognition – the benefits of reading for your child’s education are limitless. Their vocabulary will get stronger as well as information processing, reasoning, questioning, and thinking critically will all become part of their everyday understanding.
  • Greater concentration – maintaining focus and dedicating a prolonged period of time over a book will increase attention-span and build a very strong habit.

“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

How do you ensure reading at home is effective?

Watching a child struggle with anything is heart-breaking. It can be so difficult to not intervene when they’re making or about to make a very obvious mistake. But I’m a firm believer in learning from our failures and I know most parents are too.

If we cocoon our children for too long and constantly do things for them, we’re actually inhibiting their development. The same is true for their reading and I’m going to share with you some really easy and practical ways you can adapt your reading sessions with your child to get the most out of it and ensure the experience is beneficial for both of you.

  • Make it feel like a treat – have a dedicated spot that’s comfortable and cosy and share your enthusiasm about it!
  • Show curiosity about the books – ‘This looks really interesting. I wonder why they look so angry on the cover….’
  • Read aloud as often as possible – hearing adults read is one of the most powerful and influential things we can do for children’s literacy progress.
  • Try not to disrupt reading rhythm – whether you’re reading aloud or they’re reading to you, constantly pausing to discuss can really hinder the fluency of the story and cause frustrations.
  • Don’t correct every mistake – this is especially important for confident or reluctant readers as constantly correcting them can really knock their confidence.
  • Try not to rush – set aside an allotted time (around 25 minutes maximum) and don’t rush or clock watch.
  • Be present – remove all phones, siblings, TVs, tablets, pets (unless they’re a reading companion of course), and ensure the environment is completely distraction free.
  • Enjoy it! If you’re not enjoying it, your child won’t either.

To develop high-level reading skills:

  • Pause and dwell on ‘natural breaks’ (end of chapter/page/paragraph) to discuss or comment on what’s happening.
  • If you suspect your child hasn’t grasped the story, try to explain: ‘I think this character may be trying to…”
  • Question your child’s interpretation and opinions: “Why do you think they did that? How do you feel they will respond to…?”
  • Link stories to child’s own experiences: “That reminds me of…”
  • Link new or unfamiliar stories to books your child already knows: “Oh! This is like the bear in…”
  • Always encourage your child to join in!

For more helpful tips, check out this handy guide too!

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