Improve your child’s reading in 10 minutes a day
If your child is struggling with reading, the first thing to remember is that you are not alone. If you are frustrated with the situation, you can be certain that your child is too. Don’t create anxiety with unreasonable expectations. Seek help and a more rounded solution.
The first step starts with the school. Schedule a meeting and ask the teacher what they have observed in relation to your child’s skills and what they might recommend.
When a child experiences difficulties with fluency, parents sometimes try to address them with long, intense sessions of reading at home. Short spells of 10 minutes each day are far more productive.
Find a quiet reading corner in the house and furnish it with reading material of interest to your child. Make your sessions in the reading corner calm, inviting and enjoyable, and don’t overdo it. Leave them wanting more. Your child will be more motivated to read a book they have chosen themselves in the library or bookshop.
Don’t make older children read books for younger children. There are books that are pitched at older readers with younger reading-age profiles. They are known as “high interest, low readability” books, and you can get them from educational publishers, at school or from libraries.
As a final tip on fluency, I often recommend a speech and drama club. Reading and acting out lines is a great way to build fluency and helps children engage with text in a more meaningful, purposeful and expressive way. BARRY MORRISSEY
The series is compiled by Louise Holden and Gráinne Faller
Seven steps to more fluent reading
1In a busy home, finding time and space for quiet reading is perhaps the most difficult challenge, but the results are well worth it. Create a spot where reading sessions always happen – a corner of your child’s room for example. Find a time that works, maybe just after dinner or just before bedtime. Even try getting up 10 minutes earlier in the morning.
2Choose the right reading material. It has to be interesting but not frustrating. Don’t give a child reading material with content that is too babyish for them. There are books for children whose reading level is behind their interest level. If you can’t get your hands on such material, try compiling material from the internet or newspapers in the form of a project that interests the child.
3Start with a conversation. What is this book going to be about? What does the title suggest? What do the pictures suggest? These help children to read with purpose.
4Paired reading is when a teacher or parent reads with a child to help model good reading and to support the child’s own efforts. There are several kinds of paired reading – try them all to see what works.
* Assisted reading
Read a part of the text and let the child take over at an agreed point. You read every second page, for example, or, if the going is very slow, every second paragraph. This can alleviate frustration.
* Chorus reading
Parent and child read together out loud. This way the child gets a sense of your tone and cadences, where you stop and pause and how you add expression. Listen closely to ensure that your child is able to read with you most of the time. If she is dropping out too frequently the material is too advanced.
* Echo reading
This is very effective for children experiencing significant difficulties with fluency. First you read the sentence. Then you and the child read the sentence together. Finally the child reads the sentence alone.