10 reading techniques to boost your child’s confidence
Your child is a wonderful little person with their own unique blend of interests, strengths and talents.
Some kids are daredevils; others are cautious. Some are strong-willed; others are more persuadable. Some are fussy eaters; others enjoy new tastes.
No two kids are alike. And no two experiences of learning to read are alike, even in the same family.
Children’s early reading development
Children learn some things naturally simply by copying the people around them. That’s basically how children learn to walk and talk.
Reading is different though. It doesn’t happen naturally. It’s a difficult task that takes explicit and systematic instruction.
Children progress through recognised reading development stages as outlined below.
|Stage||Rough age||Learning||What you can do|
|Emergent||Birth to 6 years||Sounds, letters, letter-sound relationships.
Meaning of stories read to them.
|Read to them often using books that have rhyme, alliteration and repetitive phrases.
Practise the alphabet.
Scribble with pencils and crayons.
Show them how to write their name.
|Early readers||6-7||Linking speech sounds to letters to make words.
Beginning to decode words.
Beginning to make sense of what they read.
|Let them write using their own invented spellings initially.
Start them reading illustrated books with just a few large words on each page.
Ask them questions about the story as they read.
|Transitional||7-8||Decoding words and reading with increasing understanding. May still need help as the reading material becomes more difficult.||Model fluent reading by continuing to read to them.
Listen to them read from short books with decodable words.
Pause to explain unfamiliar words.
Extend children’s vocabulary in everyday conversations.
|Fluent||9-13||Reading independently with increasing confidence.
Able to handle longer, more difficult material.
Using familiar parts of a new word to understand the rest of it.
Relating different sections of a story to one another.
Encountering different viewpoints and more complex ideas.
Using other knowledge and life experiences to draw conclusions about what they’re reading.
|Ask questions to improve comprehension.
Ask what they think about the different points of view they encounter when reading.
Ask them to summarise the main ideas.
Show them how to use dictionaries to understand meaning or check spelling.
As you can see, each stage builds on the one before. There’s little to be gained by plugging away at the level your child ‘is supposed to be at’. Instead, go back a stage and strengthen those foundations.
The link between confidence and skill development
Children are observant and highly aware of their place in their social group. Your child may be acutely aware that others in their class are better at reading than they are.
They may start to associate reading with negative feelings like failure and that, in turn, can make them less willing to work at reading. After all, when you think you’re bad at something, you usually don’t want to do it.
Feeling confident, on the other hand, makes young readers more willing to engage, take risks and keep on trying. And that leads to improvement.
So, how do you boost your child’s reading confidence? Here are 10 key tips.
10 reading techniques
1. Model a growth mindset
Dr Carol Dweck’s research shows the importance of the right mindset for learning. People with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is static – you’re either smart or you’re not. That means they give up when something is hard since they can see they’re not up to the task and don’t believe there’s anything they can do about it.
However, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed through effort and so, when they face an obstacle, they work harder, improve their skills and overcome the challenge.
What does that mean for you as a parent? It means:
- Modelling a growth mindset for your child. When you try something that doesn’t work out, say something like ‘I’m still learning how to do that. Next time, I’ll be a little bit better than this time.’
- Correcting fixed mindset comments like ‘I’m bad at reading’ with growth mindset thoughts like ‘I’m learning how to read and each time I practise, I get a bit better at it’.
2. Emotional engagement
We’re all more motivated to do things we enjoy. You can help your child form positive emotional connections to reading by:
- Making reading a special time you spend together.
- Getting them invested in the story by asking questions like:
- Why is the character happy/excited/scared/upset?
- What do you think might happen next?
- What would you do if that happened to you?
3. Choose good books
Your child needs to read – but they don’t necessarily have to read the books sent home by their school. If the books are dated or boring, you may be able to increase your child’s willingness to read simply by improving the quality of reading material.
Pop into your local library or invest in a set of stage-appropriate books for your child like the Little Learners Literacy decodable books.
It’s also a good idea to vary the type of reading your child does. Try stories, poems, recipes, jokes and non-fiction books.
4. Give them some control
Get your child to buy in by giving them choices about reading. Would they like to read this book or that one? Would they like to read before dinner or afterwards?
5. Eat the elephant in small bites
Reading is not easy. English is a tough language with many odd spellings and silent letters. Trying to work it all out can be exhausting.
If your child tires easily when reading then try:
- Alternate reading – they read a page, then you read a page
- Reading when they’re well rested rather than already exhausted
- Reading half the book, taking a break, then coming back to it.
6. Make a game of it
Mary Poppins was onto something when she made a game out of tidying up the nursery.
Bring a bit of fun back into reading by:
- Acting out the story
- Reading to their toys or pets
- Cutting out common words and making silly sentences from them
- Playing reading games.
7. Practising daily
Getting better at anything involves regular practice. There’s just no way around that.
Working out regularly builds your muscles. Reading regularly builds your reading muscles. Get your child to flex their biceps before reading to illustrate the point.
8. Remove distractions
Reading takes concentration. Help your child focus by removing distractions. Turn off the TV, pick a quiet place and focus on the book.
9. Patience, encouragement and rewards
Try to deal with any stress you feel about your child’s reading progress elsewhere. When you’re with them, be patient, giving them time to work out difficult words. Praise their efforts and highlight their progress when they confidently read a word that they couldn’t read last week. Reinforce progress with some rewards at key moments.
10. Talk to their teacher about what to focus on
Your child’s teacher is a valuable source of advice about their reading progress. Ask for a time to talk to them about which aspects to focus on when helping your child learn to read.
How can SpeechEase help?
As speech therapists, we work with many families concerned about their child’s reading progress. We often encourage families to rule out any issues with their child’s hearing or eyesight then we work on improving speech to improve reading.
What does that mean? Well, if your child pronounces some sounds incorrectly like ‘baff’ instead of ‘bath’ they’re more likely to struggle with reading. We can help them to break down sounds correctly so that they can hear the letters in there, which aids reading progress.
Book an appointment today for speech pathology in Townsville, Mackay or Brisbane.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.