A Guide to Reading with Children
Recently, I had a clear out of my old teaching documents. I came across a guide my kindergarten team created for parents about positive reading experiences at home. After rereading I adapted it and share it below. You can share this page with parents.
Reading with Your Child at Home
When reading with your child a parent’s role is to positively support them. A relaxed reading experience reverses feelings of pressure and negative associations. If a book is too hard, your child will become frustrated reducing their desire to read.
Structured reading at school involves assessments and teaching formal strategies. If parents can make reading at home relaxed and positive this gives the teacher more time to teach.
Reinforce and praise your child when they succeed, and in their efforts when trying to read. The risk of making an error is problematic for many children. Support them in using reading strategies to read unknown words (see below) than to read perfectly every time.
What follows are six different ways (in no particular order) you can positively support your child’s reading progression.
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1. Using the Illustrations
Before beginning a new book with your child, give them time to look through all the pictures. Illustrations provide clues that help them put the text into the correct context. When they come to a word they don’t know, the pictures might be just the clue they need to read more complex words.
2. Predicting Unknown Words
Inconsistent phonic rules in English make it hard to sound out every word. As books get harder children can’t rely on memorising words and it seems like their reading has plateaued.
Predicting longer words may seem like they are guessing, but they are using multiple reading strategies. This includes looking carefully at the illustrations, saying the initial sound and determining if their guess makes sense. These tactics will help your child make a sensible guess. With practice, they will use these strategies without your help.
Be careful about them sounding out every letter, particularly of long words. Sometimes it is better to tell them the word and move on from this strategy.
Here are some great picture books with descriptive vocabulary and wonderful illustrations.
3. Prompts and ... Waiting
Expect and encourage your child to do the work when reading. WAIT for them to respond. This is hard to do, but it may take your child that much time to process the print on the page.
Using prompts helps children focus on a word. Two basic prompts are ‘Try that again’ and ‘does that make sense?’ If your child cannot read the word, simply say it and let them read on. The story flow is more important than for it to read every word correctly. Do not correct every error, especially if the child’s substitutions make sense to the story.
4. Self-Monitoring and Self-Correction
Self-monitoring is when a reader notices their own reading errors. Self-correction is the ability to go back and fix those errors. Both strategies show an awareness of a child’s own reading.
Many young readers struggle to notice reading errors because of a lack of comprehension. Or, if they do notice they may keep reading despite the mistake. If they substitute a word that makes sense let them continue reading to see if they notice the error. If they don’t stop at an appropriate place and ask them to review the sentence.
Try these strategies to help your child monitor and correct reading errors.
- “You said ________. Does that make sense?”
- “You said ________ which makes sense. But does it look right?”
Provide specific praise when they practice self-correction. For example:
- “I liked how you noticed baseball didn’t make sense and you went back and tried again. The word basketball made more sense.”
- “I liked how you figured out that ‘c’ makes an ‘s’ sound in the word price and you fixed it by yourself.”
5. Check for Understanding
Children show comprehension by responding to what they have read in ways that make sense. Encourage comprehension by expecting your child to respond to what they have read through discussing and questioning. Done consistently means it becomes an expectation and your child will read for meaning to be prepared.
Here are some ideas (find more questions here):
- Discuss their favourite part of the story.
- Re-tell the story again in their own words.
- Ask them if they have ever felt like (character‘s name) and see if their answer makes sense.
- What is the character’s goal/mission? How did they achieve their goal?
- Why did the character make this choice? Could they have made a better choice?
What if your child has trouble remembering events in the story or their answers are out of context. Start them off and ask, “What happened next?” Or revisit pages in the book to trigger responses. And keep practising!
6. Sight Words
Sight words are common, frequently used words (You can find word lists here). Sight words used with other reading strategies increase speed, fluency and accuracy.
There are thousands of sight word games on the internet. Check some of them out on Pinterest. Remember to always write with lowercase letters except where a capital letter is appropriate.
There are hundreds of games that support learning sight words. Here are a few I have used in the classroom.
…relax and enjoy reading with your child. Their progress in reading depends on their enjoyment. If reading becomes a chore or an opportunity to fail, rather than succeed, it will affect your child’s reading development. If reading isn’t fun, we aren’t doing it correctly! Have a positive influence throughout your child’s reading journey.