8 Ways You Might Be Discouraging Your Child from Reading

how parents discourage reading

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We don’t intentionally discourage our children from reading. But sometimes we can make small yet frequent mistakes that deter our budding young readers over time.

Here are some common ways parents can discourage their child from reading, and what you can try to do instead.

1. Not providing reading material at home

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” — Dr. Seuss

A love of reading begins with great books – a lot of them! Make sure your house is stocked up with age-appropriate books and reading material, including comic books and kids magazines. Provide a variety of reading material around the house and in your child’s bedroom. Early readers can also benefit from having posters on the wall that include a lot of text (e.g. animal charts, nursery rhymes and songs). If your child owns a tablet device, look for reading apps and e-books that will give their other games a run for their money.

For long car trips and family holidays, always pack books and reading material.

Give your child their own bookshelves at home, and if they’ve finished all their books, you can always find more at the local library.

2. Using reading time as a bargaining chip…

Sure it may be tempting, but using reading time as a bargaining tool is something that parents should try to avoid. It’s never a good idea to associate reading with any other incentive than pure enjoyment or learning about new things. If your child is a reluctant reader, saying things like, ‘If you do your reading you can watch TV’ or, ‘Just ten minutes of reading and you can have dessert’ are not going to yield real long-term results.

Instead of bargaining, encourage your child to see the intrinsic rewards of reading by saying things like, ‘Wow, you finished your book today! Which was the best part?’ or, ‘I remember reading that book in school, and I still love it today!’ 

3. Or using it as a threat

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” — Kate DiCamillo

The one thing that could be worse than bribing your child to read is using it as part of punishment. Have you ever heard yourself say something like, ‘You didn’t do your reading so you don’t get to watch TV’? We’ve almost all been there.

Using reading time as punishment can leave your child filled with dread at the very thought of it. Read more about the value of positive reinforcement.

4. Not letting them choose their own books

If your child is at school, chances are they have a set reading list, and there may not be very much you can do about it. So when it comes to reading books outside of school, it’s important to let your child choose the ones they really want.

Visit the library and let your child pick out the books they want to read. There’s nothing wrong with making suggestions and guiding your child’s decision – we all hope our children will love the same books we loved as children. But ultimately, if they’re reluctant about a book from the get-go, they’re not very likely to warm up to it anytime soon.

5. Being a non-reader yourself

Can’t remember the last time you picked up a book? Finding time to read can become a great challenge in our adult years, especially when raising a family. But if your child doesn’t see you or anybody else in the house enjoying a good book, eventually they’ll struggle to see the value in doing it for themselves. Let your child see you indulge in a good read now and then – children watch (and often copy) our every move.

6. Choosing books that are too easy or too hard

If your child finds a book too easy or too ‘babyish’, they’ll quickly grow bored with it. On the other hand, if the book is too challenging and contains too many words they don’t know, it’s likely to cause immense frustration, which can put them off reading altogether.

A good way to determine if a book is just right for your child is by using the Five Finger Rule. If the book has a few difficult words, try reading aloud together. There’s nothing wrong with exposing children to more complex language in context. But if you know the language and concepts will be too difficult for them to enjoy the story, set it aside for another time.

7. Over-correcting their mistakes

This one is tricky. While it’s important to show your child where they’ve gone wrong, being overly critical can be extremely discouraging.

Reading should be a fun and enjoyable experience. It’s important to prove this to your child. Forcing them to read and reread text until they have it perfect can be very discouraging to an emerging reader. Try to avoid interrupting while they are reading and wait for a natural pause to point out any mistakes if you need to. If you want to help your child work on their reading fluency, try texts that are fun to re-read over and over again, such as fun rhymes and poetry, which also give reluctant readers a great sense of accomplishment.

8. Forgetting to read with your child regularly

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

Even if your child is old enough to read on their own, reading together can still have a lot of value. Take turns reading aloud and create positive reading memories together. Talk about the story, the characters and the pictures, and ask your child questions about how they feel or think about the book. Setting a regular reading time with your child is one of the best ways to set them up for a lifetime love of reading.

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5 Ways to Help Your Child Sound out Words

help child sound out words

Cracking the reading code takes practice and repetition. Decoding words, or sounding them out, is the ability to apply existing knowledge of letter-sound relationships to correctly pronounce printed words.

Many children develop the ability to decode words over time with regular reading practice. But children may also benefit from explicit instruction. Phonics instruction is an essential component of learning to read, and involves teaching your child how to decode words by correlating sounds with letters.  Here are five helpful ways you can help your child sound out words:

1. Explain the “how” of decoding words. When your child comes across a word they are unfamiliar with, show them how they can sound out the word themselves by breaking it up into smaller parts (e.g. /c/…/a/…/t/). Help your child identify the phonemes – the single units of sound that distinguish one word from another – in words (e.g. /b/…/ur/…/n/). There are 44 phonemes in the English language. Phonemes charts can be found online.

The English language also contains many irregular spelling rules which can make sounding out particular words confusing. For example the letter combination /ch/ in the words ‘chef’, ‘choir’ and ‘cheese’ have three different pronunciations. Take time to help your child learn the pronunciation of every new word along with its meaning, in order to help them identify ‘irregular’ words by sight.

2. Teach blending. Blending is a crucial step in becoming a fluent reader. Put simply, blending is the ability to smoothly combine individual sounds together in words. For example, an early reader may read out each individual sound in the word ‘fast’ like /f/…/a/…/s/…/t/, while smooth blending would be sounding the word out as /faasst/. Read some activities on how to teach your child blending here.

3. Write it down. When helping your child sound out words, consider the following:

  1. Say it slowly – stretch out words so that it’s easier to hear the sounds. Vowel sounds are usually the easiest to stretch out.
  2. Hold the sound – Starting with the first sound, hold it and stop.
  3. Find the letter – Help your child identify the letter whose sound matches the sound they have identified.
  4. Write it down – Write that letter down straight away, without waiting until the entire word has been sounded out. Help your child write a letter or letter combination for each sound as soon as the sound is identified.

Writing each sound as you go will help your child remember early sounds in a word by the time they figure our later sounds.

3. Play with rimes and onsets. A rime refers to the string of letters that follow an onset, which is the first phonological unit of any word. You can play with rimes and onsets by cutting out pieces of cards and writing a phoneme on each one, for example, b c f p r s m and h. Write the word at on a separate piece of paper. Ask your child to look at the rime at and decide if they have a phoneme that would correctly complete the word (e.g. b + at = bat).

4. Read aloud. When children hear words read aloud, they begin seeing how printed words are closely connected to spoken words. Reading aloud with your child helps them associate individual sounds with printed letters and letter combinations. Set aside regular reading time with your child and allow them to hear you read aloud slowly while watching your finger identify each sound. Programs like Reading Eggs include read aloud options with e-books for early readers, highlighting individual sounds as they are being read out.

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that teaches children to read using phonics. Suitable for children ages 3-13, Reading Eggs includes hundreds of guided reading lessons and over 2000 e-books for children of all reading levels. Start your free two week trial today.

7 Important Benefits of Reading Aloud

Parent-reads-to-Kids

“One of the greatest gifts adults can give – to their offspring and to their society – is to read to children.” – Carl Sagan

Today marks World Read Aloud Day, which is about celebrating the power of words, especially those words that we share from one person to another.

Sharing stories often begins with reading aloud. Reading aloud provides a number of opportunities and benefits for children of all ages, from strengthening their vocabulary to increasing their attention span.

Here are seven important benefits of reading aloud with children:

1. Develops stronger vocabulary. Children acquire language primarily through listening. Reading aloud lets children regularly hear new words in new contexts, which builds their vocabulary and helps them develop a stronger awareness of the communicative possibilities of language.

2. Builds connections between the spoken and written word. When children hear words read aloud, they begin seeing how printed words are closely connected to spoken words. This helps them recognise the difference between the arrangement of spoken language and printed text.

3. Provides enjoyment. Children generally enjoy being read to, which encourages them to see and experience reading as something fun and positive. Reading aloud makes them more likely to become interested in learning to read, which is likely to then spark a lifelong love of reading.

4. Increases attention span. Unlike watching television, reading or being read to promotes a slower unfolding of events and ideas. This encourages children to listen, pay attention and concentrate, which after a while can increase their overall attention span.

5. Strengthens cognition. A well written book exposes children to sophisticated language, which can strengthen their cognitive abilities. When children are regularly exposed to the sophisticated language of quality literature, they learn how to apply their cognitive abilities to understand the text.

6. Provides a safe way of exploring strong emotions. Reading a story aloud that explores particular emotions helps some children to accept their own feelings and understand how others feel. By reading aloud together, stories can help children feel more comfortable discussing their emotions with others.

7. Promotes bonding. Reading aloud with children provides benefits for adults too. The quality time spent together promotes bonding and strengthens relationships, making it easier for children to develop their social, communication and interpersonal skills.

World Read Aloud Day is an excellent time to begin reading aloud with your child if you don’t already. For some helpful tips, read our previous blog post on 10 Reading Aloud Dos and Don’ts.