Yes, reading is very important! Reading helps your child to learn new words, improving their understanding of the language they are reading in. It increases concentration and attention span, allowing children to focus deeply. Having a good understanding of vocabulary and better focus helps children learn all their subjects, not just in English or Reading class. Learning to predict stories and judge characters allows children to understand the basics of logic, as well as cause and effect in different relationships. This can even be helpfully applicable to their everyday relationships with their friends and family. Overall, a love of reading and strong reading comprehension skills hugely helps children’s skills in language, concentration, and emotional development.
Reading comprehension is all about understanding and interpreting what you are reading. Children use their reading comprehension skills to connect what they read to their own knowledge, answer questions about the story and predict what may happen next. Answering questions confidently or explaining why they think something is happening can be examples of strong reading comprehension.
When children first learn to read, they are still developing their basic word-reading skills. So, their skill in word recognition is the major factor for how good they are at reading comprehension. As their word recognition becomes more fluent and their vocabulary increases, they become stronger at reading comprehension. Because of this, children who read inaccurately can have poor reading comprehension - reading more and being exposed to lots of different words hugely improves reading comprehension.
Helping children to develop these skills through reading is vital, but it can only be done if your child has a willingness to read! So, here are some tips to help you teach your child to love reading.
Children pick up many of their habits from their parents. One of the best ways to show your child that reading is important is to model reading yourself. This requires two steps. First, make sure there are lots of books available to them in your home. In their bedroom, in the car, and even in the bathroom. By letting them always have access to books, children are more likely to pick them up themselves. Encouraging children to read for just 20 minutes a day adds up to 3,600 minutes per school year! This amount can improve your child’s reading skills hugely. 20 minutes a day could easily be completed before bedtime, or in the car on the way to school.
And remember - having lots of books available doesn’t mean spending lots of money. Borrowing library books from your child’s school library or your local library will be just as good, and is free.
The second step is to lead by example - let your child see you and the rest of their family reading. You can also try talking to your child about what you have read. By showing your own interest in and love for reading, your child will be inspired to try for themselves and to enjoy reading. Children love to follow their parent’s example!
Many children who seem disinterested in reading simply do not have access to books they would enjoy. Try to expose your child to many different genres, styles, and characters. They are far more likely to read a book where the story is on a topic they find exciting. There are many genres for your child to choose from. For example, mystery and adventure stories are often loved by children with big imaginations.
Another way to narrow down the types of books your child may enjoy is by finding books about subjects they like. For example, if your child loves learning about space, try providing them with a science fiction book. If they are curious about animals, an animal fact book may be for them. If they tell you they found a book boring, remember what genre it was, and offer them something different. By trying lots of different books, you will be able to find your child something they love.
Your child’s confidence in reading will grow if you get involved in their reading and motivate them. Developing this confidence will help improve their reading comprehension skills. You can get involved by asking your child to read their book out loud to you, or by asking questions about what happened. All types of involvement and support will help to motivate them. Reading out loud and discussing the story can help develop your child’s reading comprehension. This is because it allows you to spot tricky words that they didn’t understand. Working together to define new words can help your child benefit more from reading. Making learning a fun, supportive environment will encourage them to understand new vocabulary. By learning new vocabulary together, your child will feel confident and empowered to continue reading.
Reading out loud and discussing the book also helps with your child’s judgement skills, teaching them to predict and understand what is happening. Try asking them what might happen at the end of the book and why, or to explain their opinions on a certain character.
Many schools and local libraries offer reading challenge schemes, with rewards, such as stickers, for children to earn when they reach certain goals. These types of challenges can also be set up at home - making reading books a fun, achievable game can encourage your child to pick up their book. With this motivation, they will associate reading with fun, and begin to love reading. The more your child enjoys reading, the more likely they are to read lots and improve their reading skills this way.
If you've tried the steps above and your child still won't pick up a book, you may want to consider hiring a tutor. It's common for children to be more willing to listen to a teacher or a tutor rather than their parents when it comes to learning. A tutor can help to encourage your child to practice reading for homework, and can find engaging short stories to read with them. A tutor can help to build your child's confidence when it comes to reading, which is one of the main reasons that children are reluctant readers in the first place!
The techniques above are helpful tips that you can use to encourage your child to enjoy reading. If you think your child is struggling with reading comprehension, implementing the tips above will help to improve their skills.
But remember: you are not in control of how your child’s brain develops. Allowing your child to grow, learn and develop at their own pace is necessary for them to reach their true potential and not feel overwhelmed. Every child is unique, and will learn differently.
It is especially important to remember that children learning English as a second language may struggle with new vocabulary and idioms. This may affect their comprehension. But, with time, non-native English speakers often do very well in reading comprehension. Remembering to not compare your child to others and to give them time to learn and develop is most important.
At Atom, we have a hassle-free service to help you find a tutor. Our team of dedicated client managers will talk to you about your child and their needs, matching you with the perfect tutor to help your child achieve their full potential and boost confidence for their education and beyond.
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