Helping your child with reading: 2. Reading WITH your child

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” Kate Di Camillo

This is the second of three short posts designed for parents of children who are learning how to read. The first of the series focused on reading TO your child/ren. This current post will focus on reading WITH your child/ren and the third will examine ways to support your child/ren to read themselves. When we share the load, we welcome children into the world of the reader as apprentices. Our young apprentices are therefore supported by those who are already proficient readers.

Some easy ways to read WITH your children:

  1. Share the process of reading newspapers (Online or old style), magazines, books, instructions, with your child/ren – ask them to read some parts and you read others.

  2. Cooking from a recipe offers many opportunities for you to read with your child – don’t make it a test – have fun as your cook together but ask the child to check ingredients, measurements and steps with the recipe along the way. This is a great Maths lesson too. Perhaps create the shopping list from the recipe before you go shopping.

  3. Ask your child to write the shopping list and then read it with you at the supermarket.

  4. Play games that involve reading – e.g. Monopoly (there are a range of levels and there is more reading in games like this than you might think.)

  5. Have your child/ren watch out for sign posts and ask them to read them to you when you are ‘out and about’. It isn’t surprising that one of the first words children learn to recognise (apart from their own name) is the STOP sign.

  6. Take it in turns at reading texts that are easy enough for your child to read with a little help. Read page about or even sentence about. You read the harder parts – particularly the names of characters. [I am reading a book at the moment that is set in Ireland – I have no idea how to pronounce some of the names (e.g. Naoise, Aoife) but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I know it is Ok for me not to know how to pronounce the names but it would be fun if someone was there to tell me].                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Reading is a complex process and your child will take time to master it (just like learning to talk).                                                                                                                             

  7. The first few chapters of a new novel are the hardest chapters to read. If you have a child who has just started reading little novels consider reading the first two or three chapters to your child and then have them take over and read the next couple. Then you take a turn again – keep the flow and maintain the child’s interest. They may even choose to read the whole novel again after the shared process. 

  8. Leave messages for your child/ren around the house – it may just be a nice message, a challenge or part of a treasure hunt.

  9. Write lists of jobs children need to do and read through the list with them. Help them decide what order that they can do the jobs. Have them report in on their progress from time to time. 

  10. Encourage a relative to write emails or texts to your children – help them read and respond.

In today’s world, being literate is not an option; reading and writing are not just school skills – they are life skills.

English is a complex language and there is much to learn in order to be able to read and write in English.

It will take children several years to learn to read independently. Their teachers will guide this process, but your help and encouragement can make all the difference.

If this post has been useful, please share the link with other families.

Published by nmackenz

My name is Noella Mackenzie and I am an Associate Professor (Adjunct) at Charles Sturt University, Albury-Wodonga Campus in NSW, Australia and a Senior Fellow of the Australian Literacy Educators' of Australia. I also work as an independent education consultant. I am also a daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother who loves to read, garden and travel. While my career has always been in education, there have been four distinct phases. The first phase was that of classroom teacher – teaching children from 5-12 years of age in a number of primary schools. The second phase of my career saw me working as a specialist professional development provider working with teachers in early intervention and special education. The third phase had me working as an academic at Charles Sturt University. That role involved me teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students, researching and continuing my work with teachers and parents of young children. The fourth phase sees me working as an independent education consultant, supporting school systems and schools with professional learning input for teachers. I am passionate about teaching and in particular early literacy development. I am proudly the product of public education. I grew up on a farm and went to the local primary and high schools where I was fortunate to have some fabulous teachers. My Diploma of Education (Early Childhood) was earned at the Riverina College of Advanced Education in Wagga Wagga NSW. My Bachelor of Education, Master of Education and Doctor of Education qualifications were all earned at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Vic and were spread out over a number of years as I studied part time and worked full time. I completed my doctorate in 2004 and started work at CSU in the same year.

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