Are you wanting to teach your child to read? Or is your child learning to read at school and you want to help support them at home? Here are five ways I believe you can teach and help your child learn to read.
1. Consistency– Most children in Schools in the UK will be learning to read through Phonics. Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write by helping the child make the link between the letters (or groups of letters) that represent sounds within words. For example, teaching children the sound we make when we read two o’s together (‘oo’) in the word ‘moon’ or ‘spoon’ or ‘balloon’. Ideally its great if you can also teach your child in the same way that the school is teaching them, to avoid any confusion. However, If like me, phonics is not how you learnt to read yourself, and you are (again like I was) baffled by the jargon such as Graphemes and Phonemes then go to point 2.
2. ‘Swat up’ on Phonics- A lot of parents have no experience and understanding of Phonics when their child is first starting school and as I said before, this is to be expected, after all many of us didn’t learn to read and write using phonics ourselves. It’s completely new to us as parents and Phonics is scattered with complicated new Jargon and unusual sounds. There are lots of ways you can learn about Phonics yourself. My advice would be to ask your child’s school. Often they produce support materials or host parent sessions to show parents how they are teaching children to read through phonics, so you can support your child more easily. If your child’s school can’t offer this, don’t be afraid to ask the teacher for advice. Personally, as a teacher, I would have loved and welcomed parents to ask me how to support their child’s learning at home.
3. Time- Learning to read, unlike other milestones your child may have already achieved such as learning to crawl, talk and walk, isn’t something that they are likely to ‘naturally’ pick up. It needs to be taught. And as with anything you are teaching your child, giving them to time to learn this is important. Family life, work life etc is busy and it can be very difficult to carve out some time for your child to read books with you every day/evening, but doing so will make a huge impact on their learning to read.
4. Find Opportunities to Read all around you!- Written text is LITERALLY all around us, it’s on signs, on buses, on food labels, toys, shampoo…almost everything! Use this to your advantage. These are all quick, short and often quite fun, opportunities where you could casually start encouraging your child to sound out the words and read them.
5. Mix it up- There are some fantastic Phonics resources available to help you teach your child to read (see our favourite phonics resources here) which include online games, phonics books, flash cards etc. But remember children’s books aimed at teaching them to read are fantastic if they enjoy them, but if they don’t.. try mixing it up as well. In my opinion, (as long as it’s appropriate!) getting them to read ANYTHING is better than nothing. This could be magazines, recipes, the TV guide, notes from yourself to them, catalogues, non fiction books etc, anything they are motivated to read. For example, we’ve recently been reading about Sharks and Dinosaur non fiction books!