Reading homework can be stressful!

This is great advice from great colleagues, Clare and Martin Rimmer, at Kip McGrath Lisburn. As busy parents themselves they understand the time issues involved and the potential for stressful situations.

As a father of two children I know how important it is for Dad’s to be involved in their children’s learning. Four nights a week I’m not back in time to put our youngest to bed, but it does mean that he and I value the other 3 nights. When they were little bed time stories were an absolute must. Now Alex still loves a story at bedtime, sometimes we read to him, other times he reads to us.

If it’s a school book I often get him to read a bit to me before I take him to school, even if he says ” I finished it with Mummy/Grandad” As you can imagine he’s always keen to do his reading for Grandad!

So how can you make hearing your child’s reading a stress free and enjoyable moment in your child’s week?  Here are some tips that have worked in Clare and Martin’s house, and also in ours.

Find a quite time – If possible find a quite moment in the day, away from all other distractions.  Turn T.Vs, laptops and mobile phones off and get comfortable on the sofa.  A cuddle is always a bonus for both of you when hearing your child read!

Try not to say the word “NO!” – You will get a lot more out of your child if you remain positive.  “That’s wrong!” is not helpful and will only add to the stress.  “Let’s work it out together” will boost your child’s self-esteem and getting praise and positive attention from you will make reading a more enjoyable activity.

Keep up the flow – Reading is not just about decoding words.  The purpose of reading is to understand.  If you stop at every single word to sound it out your child will have no comprehension of the story.  If your child gets a word wrong let them self correct or  tell them some of the unknown words to keep up the flow of the story.

Look at the pictures – Let your child study the picture when they turn the page.  We learn to read using lots of different skills.  We predict what the words might be by using the pictures and reading words in the context of the sentence.  This is an important skill and should be encouraged.

Use their knowledge of phonics to sound out unknown words – If a word can be sounded out phonetically, then encourage your child to try this for some of the words.  Once they have got it,  re-read the sentence to them to maintain flow.  If the word is beyond their current phonic knowledge tell them the word and move on.

Discuss the story with your child – Don’t just concentrate on the individual words.  Build up their understanding of the story by discussing what they have read.  Ask them what they think might happen next, what their favourite part is and how they think the story will end.  Your child will build up invaluable comprehension skills.

Read with your child regularly – Once a week is not enough!  If you can, fit in 10 minutes of reading every day.  The more your child reads the faster their confidence will grow and the quicker they will move towards fluency.

Let your child choose a book – Make sure your child has a wide variety of books to choose from apart from their reading homework books.  There is nothing like reading a book you are really interested in.  If a comic or a joke book is what your child likes then let them read these to you.  As their fluency improves they will gradually widen their repertoire.

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