How to improve your child’s reading skills.

As a parent it can be hard to know just how well your child should be able to read, especially in the younger years. Professionals indicate that the average reading age of a newspaper is between 9 years 6 months and 10 years 6 months. That means that the average grade 5 learner should be able to read a newspaper article with little to no difficulty. It’s easy to jump to conclusions and think that poor reading abilities are due to the education system in South Africa. This simply is not true. English reading ages seem to be deteriorating on a global scale. Without placing blame on anyone, what can we, as parents, do to help improve reading skills at home? Below are a few tips to consider:

Set aside a regular time to read to your children, every day.

Studies show that reading regularly to your children will produce significant gains in reading comprehension, vocabulary and the decoding of words. Whether your children are in grade R or grade 6, it will increase their desire to become more involved and read independently.

Surround your children with reading material.

Studies show that children with a large array of reading material in their homes score higher on standardized tests. Encourage your children/child to read by having a large supply of appealing books and magazines at their reading level. Make sure that reading material is available in bathrooms, bedrooms, family rooms and even cars or by the television.

Have a family reading time.

It can be beneficial to incorporate some family reading time into your daily schedules. Establish a daily 15 to 30 minute time when everyone in the family reads together silently. Your children will be inspired to read just by seeing you read. You only need to cater to a few minutes each day to improve your child’s reading fluency.

Encourage a wide variety of reading activities.

Make reading an integral part of your children's lives. Reading a book or a magazine is not the only way to encourage reading in your children’s lives. Have them read menus, roadside signs, game directions, weather reports and other practical everyday information. Also, make sure they always have something to read in their spare time when they could be waiting for appointments or riding in a car. Entice your children to read more by taking them to the library every few weeks to get new reading material. The more you encourage reading and make it a part of your regular lives, the more natural the activity will feel to your children.

Be knowledgeable about your children's progress.

It can be quite beneficial to find out what you children’s reading levels should be. You can then progress and keep an eye on their basic reading skills improvement reflected on report cards and standardized tests.

Look for reading problems

If your child is struggling to read at the right level, try to find the underlying cause of the problem. Listen carefully and find out if your child can sound out words, know sight words, use context to identify unknown words, and clearly understand what they read.

Show enthusiasm for your children's reading.

How you react to your children’s interest in reading will have a noticeable effect on just how hard they are willing to try. Be sure to give them genuine praise for their efforts and not only for their ability. Reading activities in the home should be kept stress free and any mistakes made should be used as teachable moments. Don’t simply quit the activity if your child gets tired. Try to mix things up by taking turns or taking short breaks. You can remedy frustration and lack of focus by making reading times slightly shorter. Alternatively, consider a shorter text or a lower reading level.

The most important thing is to get help promptly for reading problems.

Reading problems do not magically disappear with time or solve themselves. Children with reading difficulties must receive help early on to ensure that they have the opportunity to become good readers. Make sure your children receive necessary help from teachers, and learning centres such as the Kip McGrath centre as soon as you discover a problem.

Contact Gwen Mckechnie or Dr. Johan Meyer for a free assessment and educational advice on: (011) 917-1230.

For more information on what your child’s learning style may be or for more tips to successful studying contact us on (011) 917 1230.