(This article was originally written for Share My School in 2015. Sadly, the site has recently ended due to a personal move to Australia, so now the post that I have written is here....)
Thank you, again, to Share My School for the opportunity to write a piece on Reading – my favourite topic! I am a primary teacher with 10 years’ experience. I have also created a website aimed at helping parents through the education process – www.panda-education.co.uk
I LOVE reading. I am probably one of the remaining minority that will not buy an e-reader because I love the touch and smell of a ‘real’ book (plus, being a mummy of 2, I don’t have the opportunity to read on the sunbeds on holiday so I don’t have to worry about that extra baggage weight!!)
So, Share My School asked me to compile a list of Do’s and Don’ts for established readers – aged 6-9, for when they are becoming more independent readers. We would LOVE your input on this topic and we are both hoping for questions from you, so that we can expand upon this list. Thank you for taking the time to read this and remember, not everything in life is black and white.
Make time to listen to your child read
We try to read every night before bed. My daughter is 6 and a competent reader. Sometimes she reads to me and sometimes I read to her and sometimes we share the read – a line/a page each.
Don’t read if they are tired
Sometimes we don’t read every night (sshhh!!!) Some schools ask your child to read EVERY night. But DO NOT make reading a chore! You are the parent and it’s all about balance – if they are tired, don’t do it!
Talk about the book
Reading is not just about the words. Books fill our minds with imagination. It is so important to stop the book and talk about what is happening (summarise/re-tell) and what may happen next (prediction). These skills are used in schools and are tested within school based SATs in Year 2 and Year 6. It is really useful for your child if you can ask them questions about the story (comprehension), especially challenging them by asking questions about parts that cannot be answered using the book (inference) e.g.: Why do you think that character felt sad?
Don’t correct your child when they are predicting
It is so tempting to correct your child, but when a child is predicting what will happen next in a story, the answers can be vague. It is important that they are gaining confidence - to imagine, to expand, to TALK.
However, if they are re-telling the story incorrectly, then please use guidance to steer them on to the right track – use the book, flick back and see what really happened.
Expose your child to a variety of books
Variety really is the spice of life!! There are so many different books out there and your child will only express interests in a certain type upon being exposed to choice. Go to the local library. Read both fiction and non-fiction books. Read both difficult and easy books. Read both picture heavy and word based books. Read books with chapters and those without, Read magazines and comics. Read menu’s, signposts, instructions, recipes. Just read, read, read!
Don’t just read popular books
It is so tempting to start delving into the world of Harry Potter or another popular fictional character. There is nothing wrong with this, IF your child is ready. However, ensure that they understand the content, not that they are simply able to read the words. If they cannot answer questions on what is happening in the story, they are not ready for complex books and these should be supplemented with more easy readers appropriate for their age.