Improve your child’s reading in 10 minutes a day
All parents want their children to realise their potential at school. A weakness in one area, such as handwriting, reading or numeracy, can lock bright children out of other areas of the curriculum. When a child falls behind it can undermine confidence and self-belief.As parents we want to help but feel overwhelmed or underqualified. We don’t know whether our input is effective, and it’s easy to lose heart (and patience). It’s also hard to find time.
The Irish Times has consulted experts in the primary learning and support, and identified key areas that cause problems for primary-school children. The result is a 10-minute-a-day plan that helps parents support the work of teachers and helps children progress in stubborn areas.
In the coming weeks we will hear from a range of learning experts in literacy and numeracy.
This week we look at reading fluency: the ability to decode letters and words with enough confidence to understand and enjoy reading.
Many children struggle with reading, and a supportive parent can make a big difference. The 10-minute-a-day routine is simple, requires no training or expensive equipment and gives parents a chance to enjoy quiet interaction with their children that will stand to them in all aspects of learning.
Here’s the first part of our expert advice.
Little and often
A fluent reader reads smoothly and with expression. Limited fluency, or “dysfluent reading”, demands so much energy to work out what the words are that there is little opportunity to think about what they mean. The child can read, but without getting the gist of what it was all about.
It is easy to become frustrated when your child’s reading is dysfluent, but there are simple ways we can help our children.
All children learn differently, so it is worth asking your child’s teacher for guidance. But the following tips are generally applicable to a wide range of children.
Do not underestimate the value of investing a little time each day in your child’s reading. The adage of little and often is the best way to avoid frustration and build confidence.
Some elements of the process, such as learning high-frequency words, will be tedious, but if sessions are brief and regular it will keep your child motivated. Establish his or her current level of reading and work from there. Material that is too difficult is frustrating, but easier material can be too babyish. There is a range of reading material that interests older children but is less challenging to read.
While working with your child you may sometimes feel impatient or disappointed. Even the faintest sigh or roll of the eyes will be picked up. Remember, it is not about where the child should be but where he is and how you can help him move forward, step by step.
Remember, if you know that your child’s reading level is not on a par with his peers’, he knows it too. An important part of your role is to make him feel better about where he is and the progress he is making.
Have patience and try different approaches. Remember to enjoy success.
When your child finds a level at which he is reading fluently, let him stay a while and consolidate it.
When it comes to literacy, overlearning is a good thing. They will use these skills forever.
If you think of fluency as the ability to read with expression, then the reader needs to be able to understand the author’s meaning. Learning to read is an integrated process and is not easy for most children. It has to be developed through years of purposeful activity, and parents can play a very important role.