Many parents read to their young children at bedtime, and this is often a special time of great pleasure. However, when it comes to your child learning to read and reading to you at home, it can be a different story.

Children need structured instruction that suits their stage of development

Some children learn to read without trying and just pick it up, but this is rare. Most children need structured instruction that suits their stage of development. Parents are often taken by surprise when their child is reluctant to read at home or struggles to remember words from one page to the next. What should be a pleasurable time of sharing a book then becomes a source of stress and anxiety for both parent and child.

Here are a few tips to help make reading at home fun!

  • Firstly, it is fine to read the story to your child first and then let them take their turn reading afterwards. This models good reading and gives them an idea of what the story is about before they start. Taking turns reading a page each can also take the pressure off. You can always read the book twice if you want your child to try every page!
  • If your child is stuck on a word, tell them what it is to keep the flow going. Make a note of it and practise it at another time, using magnetic letters or flashcards. Alternatively, you can look through the book first and pick out words which are new or tricky to practice before you read. If the word can be sounded out like ‘sheep’, you can say the sounds ‘sh-ee-p’ and then let the child copy you. If the word can’t be sounded out then talk about the letters and what is tricky about it, like the word ‘what’ is ‘w-hat’ – this makes me think of Willy Wonka’s hat!
  • If your child is finding learning to read difficult, don’t panic! It is important to realise that your child’s ability to read is not a reflection of their intelligence.  Many highly intelligent people struggle to learn to read and excel in other areas, like remembering facts and verbal communication.
  • Avoid reading when your child is tired; this can be hard as your child may often be tired after a long day at school. Struggling through a book is counter-productive and will damage your child’s confidence.

Let your child know that reading can be hard, and it is okay to make mistakes. Like taking physical exercise, reading can be tiring as we are exercising our brain, and sometimes it feels uncomfortable. Some children can have the wrong idea about reading as they see their classmates read words with ease, not realising that they have practised a lot at home.

At Hoi An International School, we deliver structured phonics instruction that matches each child’s ability. We support the child in developing their skills in Guided Reading sessions with the teacher. In addition, extra support is provided individually and in small groups for those that need more hands-on activities and a slower pace. We know everyone will learn to read with time, patience and careful instruction.