How can we help our children read? Unfortunately when learning to read, it often becomes hard work, especially when approached academically and with targets in mind. So how can we help children to really love reading from the start?
- Start young – Make board books available for your baby. Black and white and bold images with plenty of contrast are attractive to even the smallest infants. Tactile books will keep them busy discovering new textures. They will learn what books are and how they work. Let them hold them and taste them. Consider fabric books and waterproof books that are easily cleaned.
- Make books accessible – Try and get as many books as possible for your child. It’s true, they can be expensive, but you can sign up to the local library (in most places children join for free and in some places libraries have a welcome gift pack for newborns with a couple of books inside), think about swapping books with your kid’s friends and check if you can get them second hand in your area.
- Make it fun – Reading should be for pleasure or children will soon refuse to read. Pick books with topics that your child is interested in, better yet let them choose. Encourage them to read at anytime, not just bedtime. Even when kids are able to read by themselves, they benefit a lot from their parents reading to them. It’s a wonderful time to connect and bond.
- Engage your child – Stop and look at the pictures together. It’s easy to get into the habit of asking your child lots of questions ‘where’s the dog?’, ‘what’s this?’ but don’t let it become an interrogation. You can also describe the pictures, your little one could be exposed to new vocabulary that way. Ask them open conversation questions, ‘which bit of the story did you like the best?’. Encourage them to make predictions, ‘what do you think will happen next?’, or express any other observations they have.
- Be an example – Show them that reading is important by actively reading yourself. Let them see what you like to read, tell them what the book is about and share what you learn with them. This is a huge motivation for kids, they want to be like mum and dad.
What has helped you encourage reading in your family? Your tips might help others to improve in this area and have more fun with their children!
English Voice Academy organises reading lessons for small children, from around 4 years old, using the Oxford Reading Tree series published by Oxford University Press and used in 80% of primary schools in the UK.