I was recently approached by some parents who had been informed by teachers that their children were not achieving the expected level in reading for the class and that, although they were only in year one, were not on target for success in NAPLAN eighteen months later.
The parents were anxious and wanted to know how they could support their children at home. Tutoring was out of the question due to distance and, while it is always best to tailor strategies to a child’s individual needs, there are some basics which are applicable to most.
My first recommendation to the parents was to reduce the pressure — on all of them, parents and children, and to be as relaxed as possible about their learning. I explained that learning doesn’t occur in a stressful situation and that parents need to support their children by working with and not against them.
4 easy ways for parents to support children’s interest in reading
I consider these to be the main non-negotiables.
- Unrelated to anything school, read stories to your children every day. Make it part of the routine. Bedtime is often recommended, but it can be anytime. Let them choose the book. Discuss it with them: What do you think is going to happen? Why did he do that? I think that’s (funny, clever, wise…) what do you think? I didn’t expect that to happen, did you? Did you like the ending? How else could it end? You need to remember that your role is not one of testing; you are sharing ideas. You don’t need to restrict the reading to picture books. Read chapter books too – a chapter or two a night. Same deal. Discuss the book with the children and encourage them to think about the characters and events.
- Talk with your children — about your day, their day, their friends, things they like, what they want to do, their ideas. Discuss what you watch together on TV or the iPad, what they watch on her own. Documentaries are great to develop curiosity, knowledge and language. The larger the vocabulary, the easier reading becomes. Background knowledge is essential to reading.
Continue reading: Strategies for parents to support their children’s reading – readilearn