Worried about your kids reading level? The solution seems simple: reading more leads to children being better readers. But just saying this might not be all that helpful – after all, just how do you go about encouraging your child to read, and what can you do to help them if they struggle? We’ve got some great ideas lined up for you.
Make a Book Chart
If there’s one thing children love, it’s rewards. Whether it’s the promise of chocolate, or something bigger like a trip to the zoo, knowing there’s something they can work towards can give them the much needed motivation to complete tasks they might not enjoy. We recommend making a book chart alongside your child – if you make sure it’s got the important information and they help decorate, it’ll feel like something they’re already involved in. There’s a few ways of styling these – whether it’s per book, weekly or monthly. You could have a set amount of pages for them to finish before they get something, with an extra special reward for finishing a book. Or maybe you could just have rewards per book, and something big when they’ve read a certain amount. Use stickers to mark off what they’ve done on the book chart and it’ll soon become something they look forward to filling in.
Assess What They’re Reading
There are two important aspects of considering what your child is reading: the level of the text, and the content. If the book is too simple or too complicated for them they’ll get bored and stop trying, so you’ll want to make sure it’s at an appropriate level. While books do have age guidelines, these are only vague, and you’ll want to work with your child (and perhaps their teachers) to figure it out more accurately. Some eight year olds might be reading at an age twelve level, others at age five. Whichever it is, work to their level and you’ll notice they improve much faster. The other thing to check is the content. This is particularly important for children who read above their age – if the book introduces concepts they are unfamiliar with, they’ll struggle even if they can understand the actual words. Beyond suitability though, there is enjoyment to consider. Often, the books they read in school might not interest certain children, so try to find things more suited to them. For instance, if your child likes Minecraft, why not read a book about the game with them? Some parents worry that books like these might not be as useful as more traditional fiction books, but just reading at all is really important -and with a topic they enjoy, you can work on their comprehension too.
Don’t Force It
This is a hard balance to strike – you need to encourage your child to read, without forcing them so much that it becomes a chore. If you find they’re having a bad reading day, or are simply bored, it’s okay to stop reading and come back later. Pushing too hard can lead to them rejecting the idea of reading entirely! As mentioned above, make sure the books they’re reading are of interest to them. Fiction is not the only thing out there – reading strategy guides for video games, magazines about sports or even websites about topics that interest them are all valid ways of encouraging reading. If you have a child who gets bored easily of books, try getting them to read on a computer screen or tablet, and try to think about things that engage with their hobbies more. Forcing a child to read books they hate will only turn them off, but allowing them to read things they like can do the opposite.
Talk About It
One thing many children end up lacking, even if they are brilliant readers, are comprehension skills. This is the ability to understand and follow what is going on. Reading aloud can often distract from this – how many times have you read something aloud only to realize none of it went in? You don’t want to make reading a boring experience by aggressively testing them about it, but there are ways to check and encourage their comprehension skills subtly. Simply talking about the book – Did you enjoy it? What was your favourite thing the character did? – can make your child think critically about the book, and help you figure out how much they’ understand the story. Plus, it will also give you insight into what kinds of things they like reading about most! You can even work this into your book chart – maybe they get bonus points for being able to tell you three key facts. It’s less like a test if there’s a reward at the end!
Have any other tips for encouraging your kids to read more? Let us know in the comments section below! And don’t forget to share this with your friends and family!