Did you know that children start to gather the skills they will use for reading and writing from the day they are born and are ready to start their learning journey with you well before they start preschool?
Reading is the foundation of all learning. Many studies show that children with good reading skills are more likely to succeed academically and will continue to be avid readers throughout their lives. If you're a parent or carer looking to start the exciting journey of teaching your child how to read, our guide will give you lots of tips on how to make the journey enjoyable and rewarding.
It's Never Too Early to Start
Learning can start when your baby is still just a bump, and it's never too early to start reading to them. From as early as 18 weeks, your baby can hear sounds from the outside world, including the comforting sound of your voice. When your baby enters the world, they will be fascinated with almost everything you introduce to them. Start their book journey with some black-and-white books, especially for babies — research suggests that newborn babies are able to focus more easily on black-and-white images. As your baby's vision develops, introduce colourful cardboard picture books. Your baby will love snuggling up with you and watching as you turn the pages.
Introducing Your Child to the Wonderful World of Books
As your child starts to move around and explore their environment, they also start to learn more about the wider world. Books are a great way to supplement this learning and encourage good reading habits. Just a few minutes of one-to-one reading time with your child every day can make a big difference. From big and bright picture books with no words to storybooks with big bold words that you can place your finger on as you read, a good mix of books will keep your child interested and to learn the link between the spoken and written word. The more interaction the better — put on that silly voice, stomp around the room like the Gruffalo, or ask them what they think happens next in the story.
Finding the Time to Read
If you find it hard to read with your child during the day, save that wonderful one-to-one time for the evening bedtime story. You will be calmer, your child will be calmer, and it's a wonderful way to end the day together. You may find that your child has a favourite book that they ask you to read time and time again. They may love the pictures, they may love the voices you put on, and they may even learn the words off by heart. The most important thing is that they are enjoying the story and learning as they go.
Read Along Together
As your child starts to show more interest in the written word, sound the words out with your child as you read the story. Rhyming books, such as the Dr. Seuss book series are great for this as they are fun to read along together and have short words that are easier to learn. You might also want to invest in a set or two of phonic cards that teach your child how letters and groups of letters sound and build reading confidence. Also, be sure to let your child see you reading your own books. You never know, they may even go and grab their own book and cuddle up next to you.
The Primary School Years and Beyond
Primary school is where your child will be immersed in a wonderful world of learning that builds the foundation for secondary school and further education. At the beginning of this key stage, the focus will be on developing sight vocabulary and phonetic ability. As they progress through each year of primary school, children will be assessed on their ability and assigned a suitable reading level. By year six, and possibly earlier, many children will be reading chapter books with small text that challenge their reading and comprehension skills.
Seek Out Exciting Books For Older Children
You can support the primary school reading journey at home in many ways, even if your child is a reluctant reader. For example, if your child loves a particular character such as Harry Potter or Tom Gates, seek out further books in the series to keep their enthusiasm sharp. There are also many children's books that have been made into films. A great activity to share and enjoy with your child is to read a book together and then watch the film adaptation. Your child will love seeing their favourite characters come to life and discussing the differences between the book and the film.
Keeping the Magic Alive For Teens
When your child reaches secondary school age, they may start to see reading as more for work than pleasure. However, it's important to encourage them to see the big difference between their textbooks and the books they read in their leisure time. There are some great teen fiction books available that will keep their reading spark alive and give them some much-needed downtime when they are not studying.
Build Key Literacy Skills For Life
The books we read when we are young can stay with us for a lifetime. Teaching your child to read is a rewarding experience for you both. Children who are encouraged to read for pleasure from a young age are much more likely to build the skills they need to succeed during their educational years and beyond.
If your child needs a little help with their reading skills, hiring a tutor could give them the boost they need, all in their own time and at their own pace. Discover the programmes we have available at Tutor Doctor and how we can help your child to get the most from their reading journey.