Reading with your child at home comes with a world of benefits for you and your children, and it’s also perfect for quality family time. If you’re not sure where to begin, we’ve got some tips to get you started.
Little and often is the best approach with young readers. Try setting aside 10 or 15 minutes of reading time each day. For some children, especially very young readers, four or five minutes of reading may be sufficient. This short time together should be enjoyable for you both.
Find somewhere free from distractions. Giving your child your complete attention will help them learn how to focus and enjoy reading. Asking your child where they would like to read also helps. They may want to curl up on the floor or lounge on your lap in an armchair. Make the choice of where to read part of the reading for pleasure experience.
While your child is reading, try not to interrupt them if they get things wrong. Let them finish a sentence or paragraph and then go back over anything you think is important.
Always remember to first praise what your child did well, such as saying ‘You sounded just like the tiger when you read this bit’ or ‘You looked really carefully at this word and used the sounds to help you work it out.’
Work it out together
Help your child think about how they could work out the meaning of unfamiliar words. Choose just one or two errors to look at and what might be the best way to solve each one. For example, try saying ‘You said “lion” here, but look at the first letter “t” – that word is “tiger”.’
If it is clear a child is unable to solve a word, then tell them the word and point out how you would read it. For example, ‘This word is “tiger”. I looked at the first letter “t” to help me read it, and I can see a picture of a tiger on the page.’ Showing what readers do when stuck is an effective way of helping young readers solve unfamiliar words.
With very young readers in particular, or for children who are finding the book challenging, it can be helpful to take turns in reading sentences, paragraphs and pages. This keeps the story flowing while making sure your child gets plenty of opportunities to practise.
Show your child how reading can sound like talking. Reading sentences and phrases fluently supports understanding and the development of comprehension.
Make sure the books you read with your child are not too difficult. When children lose the flow of a story, and find more than one in 10 words hard, they can become reluctant to read. If this happens it may be more beneficial to read the story to your child.
Children love to read stories they have read before. Young children in particular will read and re-read their favourites many times.
Re-reading something they can read quickly and easily is just as important as facing new challenges in reading. This helps to build confidence, speed and accuracy.
Talk about the story
Talk to your child about the books you read together. Not only will this increase their enjoyment of reading, but it will also help to improve their comprehension skills. We suggest questions in the back of each Cambridge Reading Adventures book that you can use to start a discussion.