I’ve been teaching children to read for over 20 years, and more recently I’ve have been working as a specialist reading teacher. I’ve taught children and young people of all ages and abilities to read – and much of my current work focuses on young people aged 11+ who have poor reading skills because of a poor reading habit, a poor attitude to reading, or underlying special needs. Below are some tips that may prove useful if you are helping a young person to develop their reading skills.
If you want to find out a bit more about what reading actually is, and how we do it, you’ll find a comprehensive document here. I give it out to the parents of students who are on our reading programme and receive intervention lessons, but I think anyone who’s got an interest in finding out more about the reading process will find something useful in it. There is a big section on dealing with reading difficulties.
If you are worried about a young reader who is happy to read non-fiction, but steers clear of fiction, then have a look here.
- Deal with the obvious – when was the last time the reader had their eyes tested? It’s surprising how many students begin school (primary or secondary) with undiagnosed eyesight problems that are easily remedied by a pair of glasses! Reading tests are free for children and young people on the NHS, as is a pair of specs. Undiagnosed visual problems can set a child back years, not just in reading, but in all their school work.
- Attitude – children are far more likely to read if they see the people around them read. Make sure your children see you pick up a book from time to time – especially dads if your son is a reluctant reader (or even if he isn’t!). Modelling ‘good’ reading behaviour is essential; I rarely have to carry out specialist remedial work with children whose parents read, unless they have specific learning difficulties.
- Do you know what phonic reading is? If not, check this out.
- Link reading to writing and spelling skills. Advice on reading and writing is here (to be added shortly!), and advice on spelling is here.
- Learning difficulties, including dyslexia, are covered here.
- Make use of your local library and spend quality time there together. Some libraries now offer free access to digital reading programmes which can supplement the reading you do together from books. Ziptales, for example, is a useful resource that many schools and libraries offer free to families. Check with your library to see if they offer it. You can access it using the regular devices at home, or on the move.