Tips For Encouraging Reading Skills In Children
World Book Day is fast approaching, and so I've teamed up with Reading Chest to share some of my top tips for encouraging children to develop reading skills.
As a home educating family, our approach to reading development has changed greatly over the years as we've come to understand that all children learn and develop differently. What works for one child simply doesn't always work so well for another, and we're strong believers in not pushing our children to develop a skill before they show signs of being ready to learn or interested in learning.
My eldest son attended school for a term, and unfortunately during his time there he was put under quite a bit of pressure to read. This had an adverse affect on him, and he began to shut down to the idea of reading altogether. He would get very upset any time we tried to encourage him, and it became very apparent that he was starting to really hate reading.
Rather than continue to push him, we decided to take a step back. For around 10 months, we didn't mention reading at all. Our home is full of books so I was confident that when the time was right, he'd pick up a book again of his own accord. Sure enough, that's exactly what he did.
In the meantime, he'd started to show an interest in learning to read in other ways - he was always curious about the signs we saw when out and about, keen to try to figure out what letters they used and what sounds they made. He also started to use video games which required him to read, and this really encouraged him to want to develop his ability.
Eventually, he started to take books through to bed every evening and within a year of stepping away from school - he was reading independently. Now at 8 years old, he is a very confident and strong reader with a true love of books. He reads to himself in bed for hours every evening, and simply can't get his hands on enough reading material! A far cry from the anxious and reluctant reader he was 4 years ago.
So with our younger children, we wanted to be sure not to push them before they were ready and instead wait until they began to show an interest which they have recently started to do...so we're now back to the beginning of the reading journey.
Here are some of the things we do to help with learning to read, that we've found really useful so far.
1. Provide a wide range of interesting and age-appropriate reading materials.
We used Reading Chest with our eldest son, and are pleased to be using their service again. They offer a postal reading book rental service which gives you the chance to access a huge selection of reading books from recognised reading schemes such as Oxford Reading Tree, without the cost of buying them.
Upon signing up, you are able to select your child's reading band (if you're not sure you can go by their age group, it's easy to change it if you find the books aren't quite the right level for your child and you can view sample pages on the website which is really useful!) and you're then sent some books by post.
Once you've read some of the books, you can return them using the pre-paid envelope to swap them for new ones! You can swap up to 3 books at a time, so that you can always have a book at home and some more on the way.
Book swaps are sent out on the same day that they're received back by Reading Chest.
There are 3 different membership levels available which offer different numbers of swaps per month at varying price points, and the gold memberships also allow you to add up to 3 children on to the service.
There are no due dates or late fees to worry about, and you have the option of customising your book preferences on the website - creating a "Favourites" list of preferred titles which Reading Chest will do their best to send to you as soon as they're available, or you can also add books you're not so keen on to your Book Bin so that you won't recieve them.
Reading Chest is such an easy to use service, and really helps to keep children interested by providing a varied and interesting range of books for them to enjoy.
2. Play With Letters & Sounds
Reading books is just one of many ways to encourage reading skills - they can also be developed through play.
Word and rhyming games, as well as simple nursery rhymes, are a great way to help kids become familiar with sounds, syllables and phonetics.
Using things such as letter puzzles and reading-based games helps to develop childrens letter recognition and the sounds that each letter makes. Orchard Games have a huge range of educational games that help to make reading skill development fun for children.
3. Use Tech!
Most children love the opportunity to use technology, whether that's using video games or apps. There are lots of fantastic apps dedicated to helping children learn to read which can be really beneficial, but equally there are also a lot of great video games which simply use text as part of the experience - I find this really encourages children to want to learn to read and also to begin to develop their sight and high frequency word recognition.
4. Read Together Often
Learning to read doesn't need to be all about having the child read themselves, being regularly read to can help a childs reading skills develop much faster than reading practice alone.
Not only are you showing them how to sound out words, but you're building key skills such as comprehension, vocabulary growth and fluency.
Following up a story with some questions to encourage children to engage with and think about the material can be a simple but super effective way to improve comprehension and encourage a love of reading in your children.
5. Patience is key!
Although it can often be the most difficult skill to have, patience really is the best tool at your disposal when it comes to helping your child learn how to read.
The most important part of the process is making the experience an enjoyable one for your child. Check out my previous post for tips on encouraging a love of reading in children.
I hope that you found these tips useful. Don't forget to head to my Instagram now for a chance to win that 3 month Reading Chest Bronze subscription!
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