At home in lock-down with The Good Apple we’re having mixed results with the home learning… The biggest plus is getting my youngest reading more for pleasure. Actually, it doesn’t matter if your kid is struggling with some areas. READING WIDELY is the single most significant indicator of future success. So… what can you do if they’re not reading?
DO – some of my favourite methods:
- Let your child choose the book. Choice is the greatest motivator. This is reading for pleasure so it is additional to the class reader. Reading their own choice will also help your child with techniques for reading set texts. *I’ll drop some tips for getting free access to books during lock-down at the end*.
- Context or picture prompts: take time to establish the context. Do the images help your child feel more curious about the setting? Enjoy the getting started bit and take your time to have a chat about what they’re expecting.
- Go down a level: sometimes fluency and confidence are more important than moving up a level, especially if you are helping your child become an independent reader… this is about establishing a reading habit so it becomes don’t-tell-the-teacher FUN!
- Turn-taking: your child reads a line or paragraph or page then you do the same with them. It is a simple and amazingly effective technique. It forces you to share the same story space and keeps the pace moving. Aim for a number of pages which is fairly low, say 15 for a twelve year old and they’ll want to do 20 or 30 and maybe manage another 20 on their own before they put it down for the day. Now is the time to up your ninja-warrior mind-control game!
- Make the dialogue come alive: get them acting and give them the best lines!
- Find a comfortable spot to share reading. This might be away from the place where they do their home learning. Remember snuggling in the reading corner when you were a kid? Get yourself a tea or coffee and settle in with a rug and your feet up.
- Read after food. Maybe after breakfast when you are slowly warming up for the day or after lunch or supper? Reading is a reward for doing the busy-busy stuff. If necessary, bribe your kid with chocolates, raisins or slices of apple. Try to avoid doing it when they are super-tired or grumpy and bear in mind that kids with reading problems like dyslexia will be more or less affected at different times of the day and less stress means more success.
- Get a tutor… I am available for Zoom sessions, email@example.com
DON’T – some not-so-favourite methods:
- Audiobooks: OK, this might be controversial… whilst your child is an emergent reader I would STAY AWAY from the audiobooks. What your trying to foster here are reading skills. Readers need to see the shapes that words make in print or on screen. How are kids going to get used to print if they don’t see it?
- Adults reading alone out loud. No. Nay. Never. This is too passive. Always. Imagine my consternation when I heard that teachers in Primary schools had text read aloud without the kids having their own copies! No wonder modern kids struggle to read! All learning in our schools had become too passive and teacher-led as kids are silenced in the name of classroom control. YOU CAN FIX THIS. And when they are back in school maybe you could make sure that, at the very least, teachers use visualisers (Ladybugs) which allow them to share their copy on screen?
- Watching films. As any English teacher worth their salt will tell you, NEVER WATCH THE FILM before you have finished the book! I am a firm believer in this. Your goal is to get your kid to learn what a book can do that a film misses. When reading, understanding grows over time so a film can feel like a bit of an anti-climax. Even stuff like Kes where they miss the back-story out. Your ultimate goal is for them to say that the book is better than the film!
*For FREE ONLINE libraries search through your local authority, for example mine is DERBYSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL>LIBRARIES>Ebooks… Thanks Dad for getting me started on this one.
Please get in touch if you are interested in my GOOD APPLE TUTORING SERVICE to cover reading for pleasure at all levels… I can also cover texts for A Level or GCSE English Literature and Language to all levels and my goal is to get your child involved in active learning which will increase their confidence and improve their life-long learning skills.