How to help your child with reading
Reading at home
As parents, you can make the biggest difference to your child’s success as a reader by encouraging your child to read as much and as widely as possible at home. Reading with your child every day can make all the difference to their progress.
Supporting early readers
Books that your child brings home from school will be at the right level for your child. They are provided to ensure steady progress and success.
Sound it out
If your child gets stuck on a word, try phonics first. Get your child to say the letter sounds and say them quickly to try to hear the word; this is called blending. If the word can’t be sounded out then it’s best if you say it quickly and move on. If the book is at the right level then this should not happen too much.
Clap and chunk
Clapping out syllables or chunks in words and names can help with reading longer words: Di-no-saur! Cho-co-late! Or point out that some words are made up of two words, so wind and then mill makes windmill.
Try expression and flow
Your child’s expression might sometimes sound stilted on the first read of a sentence or a page. This is because they are focusing on making sounds into words. To keep your child hooked into the story, read it again with expression – after lots of praise, of course!
Don’t be afraid to back track
It’s sometimes good to get your child to re-read a sentence or even a page if it has been tricky to work out. This helps with meaning, flow and confidence – we all still have to do this sometimes!
Read, read, read!
It’s really important to read as much as possible with your child. Read the books that come home from school, borrow library books, buy books and magazines. Read signs and notices, and find interesting websites to read. And keep reading together at bedtime too!
Key Stage 1
When we hear children read in school, alongside their phonic skills we also support their comprehension skills. Having excellent reading comprehension skills is crucial; it helps to increase the enjoyment and effectiveness of reading but also is an essential life skill.
Below are examples of the kind of questions you could use to support reading at home. We really hope you will find these useful in encouraging learning at home and sharing a love of reading with your child.
Key Stage 2
Parents often wonder how they can help to develop the reading skills of children who are already fluent readers. The best way is to continue to share books with your child, regularly listening to them read, sometimes reading to or with them, but also discussing books read in increasing depth. To become good readers, children need to develop skills in seven key areas and it can be useful to think about these when reading with your child.
Decoding: this is the skill that parents are generally most familiar with, and deals with the varying strategies used by children to make sense of the words on the page. Even fluent readers can be stumped by an unfamiliar word, and it is useful at these times to discuss the range of strategies used to make a sensible guess.
Retrieval and recall: early readers need to develop this skill, in order to locate important information and to retell stories and describe events.
Inference: reading between the lines. Encouraging children to make inferences based on clues in the text and their understanding of the context of the book will help them to develop this important skill.
Structure and organisation: as children read a wider range of text types, they need to be able to comment on the features of each and how they are organised. Discussing the presentation of the text, e.g. the use of subtitles to assist reading of a non-fiction text, and the author’s reason for organising the text in this way, will support children’s development in this area. Making links between the purpose of the text and its organisation is a useful place to start.
Language: specifically, thinking about the language choices made by writers, their possible reasons for making those choices and the effect the choices have on the reader. Discussing alternative choices and their effects can be a good way to begin discussion about the author’s language and an opportunity to develop vocabulary generally.
Purpose and viewpoint: Who is the narrator of this story? What does the writer of this biography feel about his/her subject? Children need to understand that writers write for a purpose, and to be able to recognise that this will have an impact on the way a text is written. Newspapers and advertisements are perfect examples of this and can lead to lots of lively discussions.
Making links: as adults, we are constantly making links between ideas and experiences. Good readers connect the book they are reading with real life experiences; with other books read and stories heard; with films; and with the context in which they were written. A child reading ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’, for example, will need to place the story within the context that it was written to fully understand it. They might also link it with other stories read, such as ‘Friend or Foe’ or ‘Carrie’s War’.
We appreciate that confident readers may no longer wish to read to an adult and would rather read silently to themselves. However, to ensure that your child‟s reading development continues to move forward, we would encourage parents to question their child about what they are reading, at an appropriate time, to extend their reading and share their enjoyment of the book. Below are some questions linked to the above points, which we hope you will find useful. It is not necessary to ask every question each time your child reads, of course, but they may prove to be useful prompts to start a more focused discussion.
What has happened in the story so far?
What do you think will happen next?
Who is your favourite character? Why?
Who is the character you like least? Why?
Do you think the author intended you to like / dislike this character? How do you know?
Does your opinion of this character change during the story? How? Why?
Find two things the author wrote about this character that made him / her likeable?
If you met one of the characters from the story, what would you say to him / her?
Which part of the story is your favourite / least favourite? Why?
Would you change any part of the story? How?
Would you change any of the characters? How?
Which part of the story was the funniest/scariest/ saddest/ happiest? Find some evidence in the text to support your opinion.
What is the purpose of this book? How do you know?
Why is this page laid out in this way? Could you improve it?
Pick three favourite words or phrases from this chapter. Can you explain why you chose them?
Did this book make you laugh? Can you explain what was funny and why?
Have you read anything else by this author? Is anything similar?
Does this book remind you of anything else? How?
When do you think this book was written? How do you know? Does it matter? What would it be like if it was written now?
Do you think the title of the book is appropriate? What would you have called it?
What is the genre of the book: sci-fi, mystery, historical, fantasy, adventure, horror, comedy? What are the features that make you think this?
Find two sentences which describe the setting.
Is the plot fast or slow moving? Find some evidence in the text, which supports your view.
If the author had included another paragraph before the story started what do you think it would say?
Would you like to read another book by this author? Why/ why not?
Further examples of the kind of quesitons you could use to support reading at home for KS2 pupils can be found below: