8 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Reading Level
Every parent knows that academic success is anchored around literacy. School disruptions have meant that too many children have fallen behind in their reading skills. Bringing them up to speed is incredibly important ~ for ALL learners, not just those who are struggling.
These 8 tips reveal the best practices teachers use themselves – derived from Tanya’s two decades of teaching and tutoring English. (BONUS RESOURCE: Read to Succeed: Strategies to Encourage Lifelong Readers )
From Prep to Grade 3
These early years are really important as a lot of learning takes place! Students will gain the ability to identify letters, decode letter sounds, blend sounds in a word, build on their spelling skills and establish a large bank of sight words.
Try these teaching strategies to boost your child’s reading skills ~
1) Decode Mystery Words
Read part of a book out loud to your child, leaving out one “mystery word” that is frequently used (like ‘because’ or ‘about’). Introduce clues about the mystery word, including the number of letters it has, a letter that it contains or even a certain sound in the word. Ask your child to guess the word! Celebrate solving the mystery by a final reading, and clap if that word in read. I have used post it notes to cover words and kids LOVE this! Uncovering the word with a flourish adds terrific fun to the reading process.
2) Personalise a Story
Ask your child to narrate a short personal story to you and write it down for them. Work together to read it aloud. This is a great technique to help your child learn to put their thoughts in order.
From Grade 3 and Up
Reading comprehension skills are key at this time! Kids are now moving on from learning to read, to reading to learn. Children will have to collect information from several sources and summarize it. They need to be able to focus on both reading and writing skills and show the ability to edit and revise their work. So if your child is struggling, it’s important to address it.
For all readers in this range, try these three teacher tips to improve their literacy skills ~
3) Context is Important
“I just don’t get it!”
This is a repeated frustration by many students (even for the proficient readers who are unpacking a tricky text!). If your child is starting on a new text, provide a bit of background knowledge and context about the book’s topic if you can. This will support your child in the reading ahead. I urge parents to read their child’s class novel as you can add context and information if they are struggling. Click here for Tanya’s article on helping students to comprehend new texts.
4) Discuss Essential Words
If you’re providing background knowledge for a book/text, talk about any essential words that they will come across. Give your child an example of the word or an illustration/photo to clarify. For example, if the topic was deserts, you could discuss words such as ‘survival’, ‘arid’ or ‘camouflage’. If you child can volunteer an answer or share knowledge with the class, this boosts their reading confidence. Equipping your child with topic vocabulary is a win win!
5) Ask Questions to Clarify
Asking your child questions at the end of a story (without making it an interrogation or ‘check up’) is important. Approach this more like a conversation. Ask them about the characters and story in a way to encourage them to build on their ideas e.g. Why do you think character X chose to do that? Would you have changed where the story took place?
For All Ages
6) Maximise time spent reading
You can read tips here 6 Strategies to Get Kids Reading. Most parents are struggling to get actual
books in their children’s hands rather than a device. Encourage your child to take a book with them into bed, on a car trip or any opportunity to get a little extra time to read. Think of this fact: even just reading 20 minutes a day equates to 3 600 minutes per school year – which is nearly 2 million words a year! (TIP: Allow your kids to ‘catch’ you reading ~ modelling reading is a huge motivator.)
7) Let your kids choose
Give your children (and especially teens) the chance to choose the books they read. If they aren’t engaged, reading becomes a chore. Great movies have sprung from books, so watching the film after the book is a great reward. Click here for great children’s books that have been made into films. Don’t forget magazines as an option or audiobooks.
8) Have reading material available
“Research supports that children who grow up with books around tend to read more,” says Ms Grambower. “This can be time-consuming finding a book that your child enjoys but persevere. There is no better reward than when a child finds a book (or author) that they really enjoy.”
Leave texts around the house. Include comic books, graphic novels, first books in a popular YA series, magazines.
Check out our recent appearance on Channel 7 News ~
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Brought to you by Tanya Grambower