Reading is one of the best learning activities a child can do at home, however if your child is dyslexic or finds reading challenging, it may be hard to motivate them to read regularly. It is a good idea to vary the reading approaches you use per day so that your child’s interest is maintained.
Below are a range of activities and strategies that may help motivate reluctant readers and ensure that you both find the process of reading enjoyable:
1. Give your child an audio book or story to listen to (or read to them)
Listening to an audio book is a great learning activity. When listening to a story, your child can:
- hear new words that they may not be able to read themselves and create flashcards to remember new vocabulary
- learn about the narrative techniques of storytelling
- discuss ideas raised in the story which will help the child develop spoken language skills
Click on these links for free audio books:
2. Instructional reading – your child reads to you
Listening to your child read enables them to read more challenging books and develop their reading skills with you to help them. It is important that the book or story you choose is at an instructional level for the child – not too hard and not too easy.
Follow these steps to find out if a book is at an instructional level:
- Ask your child to read one paragraph or 100 words from the book
- Count how many words your child can read independently.
- If a child struggles with 10% or more of the words in the text, (10 out of 100 words), the text is too difficult for them at this stage.
- If a child can read most of the text and only struggles with between 5 to 9words incorrectly, the text is challenging enough to be instructional, but they need to read it with you.
- If your child can read all of the words correctly or misreads fewer than 4 of the words, then your child can read this book by themselves with little input from you.
Different ways to read a book– when you have chosen a book to read together, be flexible in how you approach reading it. If the child is tired one day, it is perfectly fine for them to just read two lines. You can also take it in turns to read a page or a paragraph. What is important is that your child enjoys reading with you enough to persevere with reading most days – even if it is for a very short period of time.
How to help the child read a difficult word – It can be tempting to immediately read a word for a child if they are struggling to read it. Instead, give them time to try and read it. If the word can be sounded out, help them sound out parts of the word. If after these steps are taken the child still struggles to read the word, only then should you read the word to them.
Write any words your child found hard to read on a list. During the week, teach the child 3 or 4 of the words from the list. You can both create flash cards and display them somewhere. When you think your child is fluent reading those 3 or 4 words, you can move on to 3 or 4 new words from the list.
- Teach your child to read – teachyourchildtoread.co.uk (now free)
Teach your child to read is a series of e-learning work books for structured adult- led lessons. Daily and brief sessions are preferable.
3. Independent reading
If a child wants to read the same book again and again, don’t stop them – reading the same book can help the child build up their visual memory of words. After they have finished, point to words in the book and ask them to read them.
Don’t insist that a child finishes the story in a day, they can read as much as they want, but regular reading is paramount.
- Oxford Owl – www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/find-a-book/library-page – Oxford Owl is a free online library of books at all levels.
4. Create a reading-based project
- Together with your child, choose a page or section in a non-fiction book or look up a kid-friendly website.
- Tell your child that they will develop a lesson or presentation to teach other family members about what they have learnt.
- Take it in turns to read
- Use your mobile phone or voice recorder to record a discussion about what you both learnt from reading the chapter or website. (Afterwards, your child can use the recorded discussion to remember key points).
- Ask your child to create resources to deliver a ‘lesson’ to other family members. Your child can deliver a power point presentation, create a teaching poster or hold a Q and A session with the family/guardians.