1. Choose A Quiet Time
Set aside a quiet time with no distractions. Ten to fifteen minutes is usually long enough.
2. Make Reading Enjoyable
Make reading an enjoyable experience. Sit with your child. Try not to pressurise if he or she is reluctant. If your child loses interest then do something else.
3. Maintain The Flow
If your child mispronounces a word do not interrupt immediately. Instead allow opportunity for self-correction. It is better to tell a child some unknown words to maintain the flow rather than insisting on trying to build them all up from the sounds of the letters. If your child does try to 'sound out' words, encourage the use of letter sounds rather than 'alphabet names'.
4. Be Positive
If your child says something nearly right to start with that is fine. Don't say 'No, that's wrong,' but 'Let's read it together,' and point to the words as you say them. Boost your child's confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement.
5. Success Is The Key
Parents anxious for a child to progress can mistakenly give a child a book that is too difficult. This can have the opposite effect to the one they are wanting. Remember 'Nothing succeeds like success'. Until your child has built up his or her confidence, it is better to keep to easier books. Struggling with a book with many unknown words is pointless. Flow is lost, text cannot be understood and children can easily become reluctant readers.
6. Visit The Library
Encourage your child to use the public library regularly.
7. Regular Practice
Try to read with your child on most school days. 'Little and often' is best. Teachers have limited time to help your child with reading.
Your child will most likely have a reading diary from school. Try to communicate regularly with positive comments and any concerns. Your child will then know that you are interested in their progress and that you value reading.
9. Talk About The Books
There is more to being a good reader than just being able to read the words accurately. Just as important is being able to understand what has been read. Always talk to your child about the book; about the pictures, the characters, how they think the story will end, their favourite part. You will then be able to see how well they have understood and you will help them to develop good comprehension skills.
10. Variety Is Important
Remember children need to experience a variety of reading materials eg. picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books.
Writing and spelling
It's easier to get into good handwriting habits early on than to correct poor writing later, when the pressure of schoolwork is greater. The same goes for spelling. Help your child to see writing and spelling skills not only as fun, but as something important and to be proud of:
- Help younger children by writing words and sentences for them to copy
- Emphasise the links between drawing and writing, and make sure your child always signs finished artwork
- Encourage your child to be inspired by examples of beautiful handwriting in museums, galleries and books
- Older children can develop their writing and social skills together by finding penfriends through school or clubs, or keeping in touch with friends met on holiday
- Encourage children to keep a diary and record the most interesting/amusing things that happen to them, their friends and family
Developing maths skills in everyday life
Successful learning depends on having problem solving skills and thinking logically as well as the ability to read and write.
Primary school children have a daily maths lesson, but an easy way to boost their skills and motivation is by showing them how useful number skills are in almost everything they do.
Children can have fun:
- measuring their height and working out how much they've grown
- on car journeys - playing number-plate games, adding and subtracting with road signs, thinking about speed by dividing distance by time
- at the shops - weighing fruit and vegetables, budgeting with pocket money, working out the relative value of products by comparing prices and weight
- in the kitchen - with weighing and measuring, and temperature and timings
- making models and origami shapes
Working it out, thinking it through
Make a game out of putting little problems to your child and letting them reason things through, prompting as little as you can. For example, while cooking ask them to work out ingredient amounts if a recipe is doubled. Praise your child for trying, even if they get stuck or get things wrong.
New experiences and discoveries are always stimulating, and they don't have to be expensive or elaborate:
- if you go for a country walk, try collecting leaves of different shapes, looking for insects or signs of wild animals, and thinking about why metal goes rusty or lichen grows on one side of trees
- introduce your child to simple map-reading using a road atlas or map of your area
- on holiday, be aware of all the things that are different to home - buildings, accents and languages, clothes, food, customs, and so on
- find out if there are clubs in your area which will interest your child - try the local library or leisure centre for information