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How to help your child with reading

Research shows that reading for pleasure helps to improve children's attainment across the curriculum. Confidence in reading enables children to absorb and understand new information in other subject areas, including mathematics. Reading with your child on a regular basis not only helps them with the skill of reading itself, but supports language development, nurtures imagination and teaches knowledge and understanding of the world.

Your child may like to read a favourite book over and over; the familiarity of the words can offer security. Be patient and value your child's choice of book, even if you've read it many times before. Taking the time to sit and read together with your child shows them that you think reading is important and will help them develop a positive attitude towards reading.

In addition to reading with your child, make books available to them at other times. Placing books on low shelves or in boxes that the child can reach will enable them to select books independently. Ensure your child has access to a range of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Libraries often have a range of dual language books that offer children a story in English alongside an additional language. These books are useful to read when another language is spoken in the home. Encourage children to care for their books, putting them back on the shelf after they have read them. This reinforces the idea that books are important and must be valued.

When children are beginning to read independently, they can sometimes lack confidence when faced with reading unfamiliar texts. 'Walking' through the text, by talking about the pictures and what is happening in them, is a good way to familiarise your child with a new book before tacking the reading of the words. When you are reading the words, it is helpful to point to the words to show your child that each word has a meaning. From this, children will also see that we read from left to right.

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It is likely that your child will be taught to read at school through phonics instruction. This approach teaches children the sounds that letters make, before putting the sounds together to make whole words. For example, children would learn the sounds that c, a and t make before blending them together to form the word cat. After initially learning common single sounds, phonics programmes often move onto sounds such as ch, sh and th. Alongside phonics, children will also need to learn words that do not follow phonic rules, such as 'was', 'the' and 'said'. Your child's teacher will be able to give you specific information about how they teach reading, but for more information and for ways to help please see our publication The Butterfly Book written by Headteacher, Irina Tyk.