Starting primary school can be an anxious time for both parents and children. One of the biggest concerns for parents can be the semantics around learning to read: just how exactly do you encourage your child to read? What if they point blank refuse to have anything to do with the home reader from the school?
But it needn’t be a battle ground – that’s why I’ve got Abbie and Alice from Play Makes Sense to write a guest post all about encouraging your child to read.
10 Tips to get your child reading
A guest post from Play Makes Sense
We are all aware of the many benefits reading provides for our children. However, some children may need a little more persuasion to sit down with a book than others. Here are our top ten tips to encourage a love of reading in even the most reluctant of readers.
Tip 1 to get your child reading: Have a variety of texts available
Have a wide range of texts available: fiction and nonfiction, comics, magazines, graphic novels and eBooks.
If your child is disinterested in books from school, but shows an interest in a different genre, encourage it. Reading is reading, whether that is school books or not.
Tip 2 to get your child reading: Get comfy and cosy
There is nothing better than curling up on the sofa with a good book.
When reading with your little one make sure you are both comfortable. Gather together lots of cushions and blankets to make a den or snuggle up in bed.
Turn off the tv and make things as quiet as possible. This will help your child concentrate and ensure they have the brain space to focus.
Tip 3 to get your child reading: Model reading for pleasure
We all lead busy lives and lots of us find it hard to make time for reading. However, it is so important for your child to see adults reading for pleasure.
Set aside 15 minutes where you all sit down to read. Grab your book and put out a basket of books for your child to explore. It doesn’t matter if they spend the time looking at the pictures, the idea is for you to show them that you love reading too.
Tip 4 to get your child reading: Choose a time when your child isn’t tired
This one seems like a no brainer, right? Wrong! It is something we need to constantly remind ourselves of.
Learning to read takes an incredible amount of brain processing power. Children have to see the letters on the page, remember the sounds linked to those letters, blend those sounds together and then say the word. All of that before having to add in expression and understand what is actually happening in the text.
Tip 5 to get your child reading: Read books together
Being faced with a whole book can seem very daunting. Make books more accessible by taking it in turns to read a sentence.
For those extra reluctant readers, you could even read the book to your child and simply get them to read the last word in each sentence.
Start small and build up that confidence.
Tip 6 to get your child reading: Remind them of strategies
If we want our children to be successful readers, we need to give them the tools to succeed.
Before your child starts reading, remind them of the strategies they can use when they encounter an unknown word.
Depending on the age of your child, this might be: sound out the word, start the sentence again to check for meaning, or look at the picture for clues.
Tip 7 to get your child reading: Non-verbal clues
Learning to read takes a lot of brain processing power, so we don’t want to add extra noise.
If your child is looking for validation while reading, try smiling and nodding rather than giving verbal praise. Save this until the end, when you should, of course, shower them with it!
If your child gets stuck, don’t jump in to correct immediately. The majority of the time your child will self-correct.
If they don’t, try a non-verbal clue. This might be an action linked to the sound, or pointing to something in the picture to help them.
Tip 8 to get your child reading: Read for a purpose
Creating a purpose for reading is a great way to encourage reluctant readers.
Get your child to read the shopping list next time you go to the supermarket, the menu at the cafe or directions on an adventure outside.
Tip 9 to get your child reading: Utilise video calling software
Why not set up a video call with a friend, or family member?
Ask your child to read a book to them and for them to read a book to your child in return.
Tip 10 to get your child reading: Create playful learning opportunities
Play games to practise skills that your child is finding tricky.
Play noughts and crosses with sight words, or go on a sound hunt around your house to work on a sound your child needs to practise. Check out the Magic Potion activity below – this comes from our Phase 1 Phonics Pack, which you can buy here.
Magic Potion Activity for Phase 1 Phonics
Phonics is a way of helping children to read and write by teaching them the sounds linked to each letter/s.
We wanted to share one of our Phase 1 activities with you, so that you and your little ones can start to play and learn together.
In Phase 1 children develop the ability to listen to and hear different sounds. They explore how sounds can be made, put together and broken down.
Being confident with these skills gives children a secure foundation to build upon as they progress through their phonics journey. Often Phase 1 is rushed, taught alongside Phase 2, or skipped completely. We think it’s a crucial phase that’s absolutely not to be missed!
Here’s the activity from our Phase 1 pack:
- Gather together ten waterproof objects. Five of the objects should begin with one sound and the other five objects should begin with another sound.
- Place two saucepans in the tray and fill them with water.
- Ask your child to sort the objects into each pan by their initial sound.
- Can they say the names of the objects quickly, slowly, loudly and quietly to make the potions magic?
About Play Makes Sense
Alice and Abbie are qualified teachers with 10 years’ experience between them, leading both the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. They left teaching to have their own children, but they never lost their passion for play and learning.
After witnessing the amazing results of sensory play, both at school and at home, they set up Play Makes Sense.
Even though they have never met and live nearly 200 miles apart, they have created amazing phonics activity cards to help children and parents learn together through sensory play.
Each pack contains over 40 activities and is bursting with everything you need to start playing and learning with your children. All the activities are simple, meaningful and engaging and use everyday items that you probably already have at home.
Sign up to the mailing list now, on their website, and get 10% off your first order!