How to Improve Your Child’s Reading
A Parents’ guide
Why Is It Important for my Child To Learn To Read?
The ability to read is vital. It builds self-confidence and opens up future learning at school and in life.
How Will My Child Learn To Read?
Learning to read does not happen all at once. It involves a series of stages that lead, over time, to independent reading and to fluency. The best time for children to start learning to read is when they are very young. This is when they are best able to start developing basic reading skills.
At WOHL Ilford Jewish Primary School, each child is expected to read at home daily, whether that is to an adult (for developing readers) or independently (for fluent readers). Each child will also engage in focussed teaching of reading in a small group with their teacher once a week. We call this Reciprocal Reading. For those children who need extra support with their reading, we encourage staff to be Reading Champions and use the valuable support of Parent Readers, alongside time in class to hear children read as often as possible.
Books for home reading are selected and monitored in a range of ways across the school depending on the age and ability of the children. In Reception and KS1, children work progressively through a scheme and are monitored by the class teacher. Teachers aim to hear children read individually, in addition to the focussed Reciprocal Reading session. Teachers listen to less able readers more frequently, but make time to hear more able readers across the year.
Each child is heard to read individually, and participates in focussed group teaching once a week as part of Reciprocal Reading. This is not written in their reading records, but is recorded in teacher assessment files.
We have a range of books to support your child’s reading within the school, and we hope this will enable your child to experience different authors and styles of books. In terms of reading, we want children to be able to:
- Enjoy reading and see it as a pleasurable leisure activity, as well as a means of following instructions and finding things out
- have access to a range of reading experiences
- have the reading skills necessary to read a range of text types for pleasure and for information
How Can I Help My Child?
As a parent, you can play an important role in helping your child learn to read. Research shows that children who are helped at home make better progress in school.
Reading with your child can be fun and very rewarding. It also shows that you value his/her efforts. If children enjoy reading, it will benefit their whole education. They are also more likely to carry on reading as adults. Reading aloud to children is the best way to get them interested in reading. Spending time with word games, stories, and books will help your child not only improve with their reading, but also their writing.
Choosing What To Read
Choose any books that appeal to your child, for example, stories or information books on hobbies/interests such as football or animals. Vary your reading together. It doesn’t have to be school books. Newspapers, magazines, recipes, games instructions, shopping lists and signs, can be read together and still be part of the process of learning to read with enjoyment. We hope that you will also borrow books from the school library and from the local library to read
together. Your child may keep choosing the same book because it is a favourite. This is all part of learning to read. Children enjoy being read to even when they are fluent readers and revisiting old favourites develops confidence and an understanding of different genres.
Supporting Reading at Home
How Can I Help?
- Find a quiet, relaxing place away from distractions such as TV
- Sit comfortably in good light and talk to your child about their book
- Read for about 10 minutes; a regular short time of quality is better than a long session which happens only occasionally
- Ask why they have chosen the book
- Talk about the cover and title and what the story might be about
- Ask them to tell you who wrote the book or point to the author
- Look at the pictures and ask them to tell you where the story takes place
- Ask who they can see in the pictures (especially in simple caption books)
- Try to be supportive and positive during the reading time - if you are relaxed, your child will be too
- Encourage your children to look closely at the print
- Read the first page or two together until your child is ready to continue alone
- Encourage your child to point to each word as they read aloud
- Where possible wait for your child to decode words
- Encourage the use of clues such as the look/sound of the letters, what would make sense and the illustrations
- If they get stuck on a word, you could:
- let them read on so they can work out the word themselves from the context
- Ask if the book was funny? Did they spot any interesting words and phrases? Did they enjoy the book?
- point to a picture if it will help them guess the meaning
- give them the first or last sounds to help them
- read along with them then pause, prompt, praise if they get it right
- read the word for them (especially if it is a Proper Name or a tricky word that cannot be sounded out.)
- when they are confident with sounds, let them sound out unknown words – break longer words down in to syllables
- do not sound out words which are not phonetic e.g “because” but encourage them to take a ‘mental snapshot’ to remember for later.
- When a mistake is self-corrected or a previously unknown word is recognised, praise highly
- Encourage expressive reading by drawing attention to punctuation
- Help understanding by talking about the story or text – the setting, the plot, the characters
- Discuss the kind of people the characters are and the way they behave
- Talk about the kind of story it is (adventure,
- fantasy, science fiction, myth…)
- Encourage your child to refer to words and passages in the text to justify opinions
- If your child is finding a book difficult, help out by reading it together.
Remember – Practice, with praise, makes perfect.
Please remember that the purpose of the ‘Reading Record’ book is to give your child’s class teacher feedback on how well your child is reading at home. If you have any concerns about your child’s reading please contact the class teacher by letter or in person.
Useful Questions Reception & Key Stage One
(A simple who, what, why, where, when, how.)
- Who is in the story?
- Where is the story set?
- Can you use the pictures to tell part of the story?
- How do you think the story will end?
- What will happen next?
- Do you like the characters? Why?
- What happens in the story?
- What did the characters say? Why?
- How did a character scare, upset or help another character? Has this ever happened to you? How did you feel?
- Did the story make you think of something that has happened to you or someone you know?
- Can you put the main events in order?
- How would you feel at this point in the story?
- What would you do?
- How do you think a character feels?
- Why did a character do/say something in the text?
- How did a character in the book help/upset another in the story? Why?
- What advice would you give the characters?
Lower Key Stage Two
- Can you explain why you think a character did that in the story?
- What does this word/phrase tell you about the character or setting?
- What does the word ‘X’ tell us about ‘Y’?
- Fine two ways in which the writer tells you about an event/setting/character/theme?
- Which words did you like the most? Why?
- In the story ‘X’ is mentioned a lot. Why?
- What other words/phrases could the writer have used?
- What do you think the writer meant by writing ‘X’?
- Which words do you think are the most important in this sentence/paragraph/page? Why?
Upper Key Stage 2
- What did that character mean when they said ‘X’?
- Are the character’s actions a surprise or what you expected?
- Why is that character surprised/scared/excited/angry?
- Explain the character’s actions or reactions to events in the story?
- What clues are there in the story to show that that character is happy/angry/sad/excited etc?
- What do you think this character thinks or another character? Why?
- How did the writer make you think this?
- Has the writer been successful in creating a setting/mood/character/theme? What else could they have done?
- Choose a passage from the text describing a particular event and question the children on the atmosphere before and after the event.
- Describe different character’s reactions to the same event?
- Who is the ‘voice’ in the text?
- Which character does the writer want you to like or dislike? How have they done this?
- What do you think will happen because of a character’s actions/dialogue/thoughts?
Further information can be found in:
‘A guide to supporting reading for parents of primary school children’