10 ways to help your child read

The prospect of teaching a child to read can be daunting for many parents. Research by Leapfrog.com shows that whilst 72 per cent agree on the importance of continuing children’s education outside of school hours, almost half of UK parents are anxious about taking on this responsibility as they lack confidence and techniques.Here Janette Wallis, editor of The Good Schools Guide, gives her top 10 tips for helping children to read.

1. Make a calendar

A family event calendar to track after-school activities, events and programmes could prove really useful but also great fun to teach your little ones reading and writing skills! Challenge them to help you write a personalised calendar – it can really help them get excited about what’s coming up and helps with writing and letter formation, but also reading if you ask them to tell you what’s on today! Use colour coding if you have more than one child.

2. Set a daily time to read to your children and try to stick to it!

We can all be too exhausted for reading at bedtime – Mums and Dads included. What about first thing in the morning, or immediately after supper? Remember, reading aloud is not just about them learning to read, it’s also one of the best way to build their spoken vocabulary, attention skills and comprehension.

3. Read stories or rhymes that have repetitive parts and encourage your child to join in

Think Old McDonald’s Farm or The Wheels on the Bus. Repetition builds their vocabulary and is key to learning words that cannot be sounded out using phonics.

4. Hang a family message board in the kitchen

Leave simple notes for one another with plenty of illustrations! LeapFrog’s LeapReader can encourage little writers even further. The reading and writing solution has interactive paper that will ‘speak’ to your child and guide them stroke-by-stroke as they use the stylus to form letters on the page.

5. Old newspapers and magazines are good for introducing your child to different print styles

And they’re great for cutting-out fun. When they spot the letters that they need to make up their own name, help your child to cut them out and stick them on a piece of card. Cut the name card up into individual letters and you’ve got an instant homemade name jigsaw! Try this with other people’s names too, like friends and family.

6. Plan a family book club

Everyone reads the same book (or has it read to them). Then get together over popcorn to discuss the story. It’s a great way to connect!

7. Late night story dens

As children learn to read themselves, consider allowing them to stay up a bit later as a treat – so long as it’s reading time. Why not help your child build their very own night time reading den out of cushions and chairs and cosy up inside for a special story adventure?

8. Movie nights

Reward older children for finishing a whole book by renting the book’s DVD, like Disney’s Brave or Finding Nemo. Ask them to explain how it differs from the book to help build comprehension skills.

9. Stickers help them stick-to-it

Try putting a sticker on the calendar 9 on each ‘reading day’; once they have ten in a row – no gaps – it’s time for a treat!

10. Hide a variety of objects inside a bag or pillow case

Pull one item out at a time and ask your child what it is. And… what sound does it start with? You could even move on to finding this letter on an alphabet chart, or writing down the letter or the word, depending on what stage your child is at. To start with, make sure you have lots of objects that start with the same letter (soap, sock, spoon and so on). Then, as their knowledge increases, move on to a mixed bag!

  • This extract was taken from 30 Ways in 30 Days confidence boosting guide, by learning toys company Leapfrog, which formed part of the brand’s 20th anniversary celebrations. To read the full guide click here 

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