The next step to improving your child's reading
What does your child know? If the book is about tigers, what can your child tell you about them? You want them to link what they already know to what they are about to read. During this time, your child will, with luck, be unconsciously using some of the vocabulary they’ll be reading in the book.
The aim is the gradual release of responsibility for reading to your child, but first your child has to see what good reading is all about. Read aloud together. Choral reading provides encouragement and support for weaker readers. Allow your child to relax. Adjust your reading to their pace.
Pause occasionally. Stop at a crucial point and ask your child what they think will happen next.
Question every now and again: is your child understanding what is being read? If your child loses concentration, it could provide a natural break to introduce a chat or a question about what’s happening or about what a character is feeling. The idea is to link back to your child’s experience if you can.
Don’t question too much. Wait for a natural break in the text. Don’t ruin it by interrupting. As things progress, paired reading can be very useful. Enjoy it.
Have a chat about what happened. Was your child right in their predictions? Was there ever a time when they experienced what the character experienced? Did they find out anything they didn’t know already? Encourage your child to elaborate on their ideas.
Remember:if your child has had enough, don’t push it.
Solutions to problems
Difficulties with word identification and vocabulary prevent children accessing the text.
Encourage your child to sound out the words. All schools carry a range of products to help with this, so take guidance from your child’s teacher about the stage of development with which to begin. This can be augmented for younger children by websites such as starfall.comand progressing systematically through the stages of this engaging phonic scheme.
Remember that sounding out is not the only strategy, and it is important that children are taught a range of strategies to use when they encounter an unfamiliar word.
When it comes to vocabulary, children who read more texts build greater reading stamina. They read many more minutes per day and read more varied texts. As a result they are exposed to richer, more complex and sophisticated language.
Introducing sophisticated words found in literature that the children may not hear spoken daily is important. Words such as “silly”, “absurd”, “stubborn” and “obstinate” are good examples. To ensure that new words stick, consciously revise the new vocabulary learned each week and encourage your children to use their new words.
An inability to read fluently means too much time is devoted to word recognition, with little left to focus on meaning.
Paired reading is a useful technique. Start by reading together and continue until your child feels confident to read on their own. Using some prearranged signal, the child reads unaided until they encounter difficulties. Wait and allow your child four seconds to read the word. Then tell them the word and restart reading.
If your child knows nothing about volcanoes or geology, for example, then they will have a harder time understanding a text about a volcanic eruption.
Talk about what your child knows before reading a text. Maybe look it up online beforehand. Identify key points of information in a story or text.
Some children find it difficult to figure out what parts of a text are important.
Talk to your child about the characters and the setting of the story. What happened? What problem occurred? How was the problem resolved? Or, in the case of a factual text, talk about the information provided. What is it about? What details can you remember? Teach your child how to identify key points using graphic organisers.