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8 Tips to help children learn to read…

Katie Pinchas (B.Arts - Dip. Creative Arts - Grad Dip. Education) Katie is a qualified literacy teacher who has taught students from Kindergarten to Year 10. She has worked as a literacy coach using the National Accelerated Literacy Program, in early childhood research, presented at national conferences and developed curriculum materials and teaching guides.

Remember bringing readers home back when you were in your first years of primary school? This activity is still very much a feature of school, even in 2016. You can go through the motions with your child, or you can maximise the golden learning opportunity that it is with these simple steps.

Like a front-end loader

Remind your child of some strategies to help them with unfamiliar words before you start reading. “Remember you could try sounding out words (decoding)” or “look out for sight words or words you need to remember by heart.” This proactive advice will help reduce the number of interruptions during reading, as well-meaning as they might be.

Buffering… please be patient

Once they begin reading allow lots of wait time for your child to work it out for themselves. This positions them as capable readers with tools to problem solve, rather than them seeing you as the expert who they need to rely on for help.

Non-verbal cues

Use non-verbal cues such as nod and a smile to encourage and support but giving space for the reader to have a go.

Follow the leader

Have your child point to the words as they read with their finger. This will help your child develop 1:1 correspondence (an important reading skill that shows they know where a word begins and ends and are keeping on track of multi-syllable words). This also slows the reader down to attend to the words on the page rather than the very impressive speed reading from memory. (You know what I’m referring to... when your child proudly speed “reads” through the book while looking at you or around the room!)

Like this article? you may also like Fast Writes: Free Resource or The Biggest Reader.

Read like a symphony

Fluency is also a great skill that emerging readers often need help with. To combat stilted reading as the decoder attacks each word, use the same text the next day to help your child read ‘smoothly’. Fluency happens when reading becomes more automatic and after lots of practice. Model fluency and expression when you read aloud. Set your child up to really show off their reading to younger siblings, the dog or favourite ted. “Can you read in a smooth and exciting way to Mr Ted?”

And.. and.. and

Readers offer a fantastic opportunity to stretch vocabulary and expand your child’s comprehension. How? Any time they ask a question like ‘what does that mean?’ you can offer more than one answer. For example, “Sulking means he is really sad, he is trying to show people how miserable he is feeling, he is thinking about how grumpy he is.”

Think with volume

Think aloud so children can access what happens in a confident reader’s head: “Hmm, I wonder why she is wearing her gumboots? Do you think they’re off to the park?
Such big feet! They are really giant, huge feet aren’t they? You know I think they’re even bigger than Daddy’s feet!”

A jigsaw approach

For those who are really keen, an easy and fun way to test how your child is progressing with reading is to write a sentence they have just read onto card. Have them read the sentence to you pointing to each word. Cut the sentence into single words. Sally / sat / on / the /mat /./ Mix up the words and put them back in the correct order. Read through to check. Turn over one word and have them read the sentence without it. Which word is missing? Turn over and check. Were you right? Make a mistake and allow your child to correct you- ‘oh silly me, it can’t be ‘Sally’ because the first letter is ‘m’ – it must be ‘mat’.

Hopefully these tips will help you to get the most out of your reading time and to help you connect with your child’s learning.

If you are a teacher you can download this article here to share with parents.

Katie Pinchas
Director
Letterheads Literacy

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