By playing Phonics Hero you are teaching your child the building blocks of literacy – well done you! But you can also help with reading in lots of other ways too. These small steps will help expand vocabulary, practise comprehension skills and build confidence – all by simply reading with your child. This week, primary school teacher, Elaine, explains 5 things you can do to help with reading:
The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go
This wise author was onto something…we all need to read, and love to read. Teachers, educators, parents, carers have an important role in inspiring a love of reading in our children.
- Lead by example: Your child’s reading hero is YOU! Let them see you read – sure they see you use your devices to catch up on news, current affairs and social media, but how about letting them see you read books and newspapers too. Buy the hard copy of the latest novel by your favourite author or the newspaper on Sunday mornings to read it as a family? Choose a recipe to cook together and take turns reading the ingredients and instructions. Be a good role-model!
- Read aloud: Many parents often ask me at parent-teacher interviews for strategies to help with reading. I tell them that a child is never too old to be read aloud to- think of those happy memories, with your toddler snuggled on your lap, favourite book in hand. You probably made funny voices and sounds for different characters- well why not do this for your school-age child also? Many older struggling readers never get any pleasure from reading, as it’s a source of great stress. So you take the reins and read a story for them, so they can enjoy it as a listener. Relax and have fun with it!
- Let them join in too: Use what your child has learnt on Phonics Hero to let them join in with reading books. Visit your local library to read and borrow books. Remind yourself of the learning sequence and set your expectations as to what they should and shouldn’t know. You could play Sight Word Detective and hunt down the sight words and or simply have your child read some of the decodable words in the text.
- Ask your child about what they are reading: I know that in the real world, we don’t have endless time to sit and read with our children, so how about using car time to ask them about their current book. Ask them to re-tell their favourite part or maybe an interesting fact from an informative text. On the other hand, if your child can’t explain what the story is about, this can flag some problems- are they reading above their level? Are they reading for meaning? Do they have some areas of comprehension that need to be addressed? (If so you should talk to their teacher about your concerns.) Most importantly, showing an interest in their books will greatly contribute to their love of reading.
- Make text connections: One of the comprehension strategies we heavily focus on at school is making connections between what you’re reading and your life experiences. Parents can do this by telling children about their favourite childhood books and what memories they hold, “This story reminds me of summer holidays on Grandpa’s farm”. Children can think of a previous book or movie that this story reminds them of.
Author: Elaine ClearyElaine is a primary school teacher who has taught in Ireland and Australia for the past 13 years, in both mainstream classes and learning support.
She passionately believes in the importance of phonics being taught explicitly in order to provide a solid foundation for reading and spelling.