Here’s how to upgrade your story time technique

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Reading stories is a powerful way to nurture closeness with your child, inspire their imagination, and set them up for a lifelong love of reading.

But it doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes when a long day gets the better of us, we get tempted to rush through from cover to cover, skip a few pages, or lose our audience’s attention with a flat and uninspired tone.

It’s important to make story time fun and engaging. Showing your child how great it is to read will help them grow into a confident reader. And for many parents, story time is a beloved family ritual–one that should be cherished for however long your child is willing to take part.

Here’s what you can do to turn story time into a magical experience, every time.

Don’t rush

The most important thing to do is take your time and read at a steady pace. Young children need time to take in what they hear, and remember, children will pick up any slight hint of irritability or impatience. If you’re short on time, choose a short book or spread a longer book over several nights.

Set the right atmosphere

Switch off your phone. Remove distractions. Create an atmosphere where it’s just you, your child, and a wonderful story to get lost in. Make sure you have good lighting so that both of you can clearly see the words and pictures.

Use expression

You don’t need to have done drama classes to be good at this one. Use different facial expressions, make eye contact, and use body language. Hold up the book in one hand and use the other for gestures. Bring to life all of the characters and emotions in the story.

Do the voices

How did the Grinch sound when he vowed to steal Christmas? Or what about the giant who caught Jack climbing up his magical beanstalk? It doesn’t matter how bad you think you are, your child will more than appreciate your efforts to make every character sound unique.

Choose rhymes

Books with great rhymes, rhythm and pace are fun to read and listen to. Before you read, get familiar with the structure in your head. Quicken your pace when you describe action verbs and place an emphasis on rhyming words. Pamela Allen, Mem Fox and Dr Seuss are some fabulous picks.

Sound effects

When you reach an onomatopoeic word, like buzz, hiss, meow, cuckoo, honk, or boom, go on and make it convincing! Watch your child burst into laughter or jump with surprise–the emotions you give them are part of what makes story time memorable.

Interact

Engaging your child by making simple remarks (e.g. ‘Wow!’, ‘That was lucky!’), talking about the pictures, or asking questions (e.g. ‘What could happen next?’) is a great way to make story time interactive and build your child’s listening and comprehension skills.

Be suspenseful and build excitement for the next story time

Slow down and stop before turning each page. Building up suspense is a great way to leave your eager audience wanting more, and get them looking forward to many more story times to come!

Reading Eggs is the award-winning online reading program that makes learning to read easy and fun for young children. The program includes fun games, exciting rewards, and self-paced lessons that children find highly engaging and encouraging.

Special free trial offer: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading confidence improves in just weeks.

How to Get Your Kids Reading More This Year

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We all want to instil a love of reading in our children, and what better way to start than with a fresh new year!

Reading offers a wealth of benefits for young children – it grows their vocabulary, builds their comprehension skills, expands their knowledge and understanding of the world, and gives them a better chance at succeeding in school. And it’s no secret – the more you read, the better you become at it.

Here are ten simple and achievable ways to get your children reading more books this year.

1. Create a reading nook at home – set up a special place completely dedicated to reading. It can be as simple as installing a few cosy pillows, a nightlight, and a few sturdy bookshelves.

2. Make time – Avoid overscheduling your child’s calendar with extra activities this year. You want to ensure they have enough time to sift through their bookshelves and regularly enjoy a long, leisurely read.

3. Make bedtime reading a part of your daily routine – Reading together is a powerful way to bond and encourage your child to adopt a positive attitude towards books and reading. Set aside some time each evening to enjoy a bedtime story and take turns reading to each other.

4. Visit the library or download a children’s books app – Make regular trips to the library or download a books app to give your kids a library of book titles at the swipe of their fingertips. Reading Eggs includes over 2000 online books for kids, many with read aloud options.

5. Make a family book tree – Sharing a joint family reading goal is a great way to encourage everyone at home to read. Cut out the shape of a tree from large construction paper and include a few branches. Throughout the year, each family member can add a leaf for every book read, until all the branches are full.

6. Explore new books genres together – Mix things up by delving into genres you haven’t tried before, like science-fiction, mystery, non-fiction, biographies, historical fiction, and poetry.

7. Stay open-minded about your book choices – Be flexible with what you allow your children to read. Comic books, joke books and magazines can be a great way to encourage reluctant readers, and offer their own unique benefits.

8. Watch more movies based on books – Studies show that movie releases spur many children to read the book version first. Reading a story before watching it on the big screen is a feat many children love to achieve, and it gives them a lot to talk about with their friends.

9. Talk about books at home and become a reading role model – Make books a part of your daily conversation. Talk about different characters, connections to real life, predictions you make, and what you want to read next. Let your kids see you reading and enjoying books in your spare time.

10. Leave a range of reading material around the house – Dr Seuss sums this up perfectly: “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks!”

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that makes learning to read fun. With over 2000 online books for kids, hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters, and exciting rewards, start your child’s reading journey with a free trial today!

10 Things to Do When Your Child Isn’t Reading Fluently

help child read fluently

Fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and expression. In order to become a confident reader who reads for meaning and enjoyment, children need to be able to read fluently, both silently and aloud.

Children often receive a lot of support in learning how to decode, but once they master the basics many receive few strategies to help them with fluency. A lack of fluency can make stories disjointed and lead to a great deal of frustration, even discouraging the reader from reading altogether.

Here are ten things you can do to help your child become a fluent and confident reader.

1. Know the signs – Be aware of clues that your child is having problems with fluency. Common signs include reading without expression, stumbling while reading aloud, reading aloud very slowly or at a mixed rate, ignoring punctuation, and moving the mouth while reading silently.

2. Make a habit of ‘buddy’ reading – The easiest and most effective way to help your child improve their fluency is by sitting down together and reading. Pair up as reading buddies every day, and take turns reading aloud. Your reading will provide a model of what fluent reading sounds like.

3. ‘Copycat’ (echo) reading – While reading together, ask your child to play ‘copycat’. Read one passage at a time and have your child read it back to you, matching your voice and intonation. This provides them with a vocal model of fluent reading that they can emulate.

4. Follow the finger – Encourage your child to follow the words on the page with their finger as you read them aloud. This will help them build stronger connections between spoken words and their written form.

5. Learn certain texts by heart – Learning and reciting short and fun texts, such as song lyrics, nursery rhymes and poems are great for building your child’s confidence, and helps them to become familiar with the rhythm of fluent reading.

6. Take breaks – If your child is stumbling a lot, let them rest. Forcing them to continue reading will only increase their frustration. Instead, close the book and acknowledge how hard they are trying. You can also turn back to a page they feel more confident about, and invite them to read it again.

7. Use audio books – Listening to what a fluent and expressive reader sounds like is important for building fluency. Audio books are a great tool for exposing your child to fluent reading, and are particularly helpful for reluctant readers, who can listen to the audio while following the text on the page.

8. Reread best-loved books – Practice makes perfect. It doesn’t matter how often your child wants to read a certain book; rereading the books they love makes valuable practice for becoming a fluent reader. With each reading, your child will become faster, more confident, and more expressive.

9. Throw in the theatrics – Dramatic play is a wonderful way to build essential early reading skills. Help your child write a short script and have fun rehearsing the lines. Invite other family members and friends to join in, and don’t forget to be silly and expressive to model fluency.

10. Hit record – Use a tape recorder or voice recording app to create audio books at home. Your child can read a book they love, or read aloud an original story they’ve come up with. You can even take turns reading aloud certain passages. This is a great motivator for your child to perfect their pace, expression, volume, and accuracy.

ABOUT READING EGGS

Reading Eggs helps children aged 3-13 improve their reading fluency with fun instructional online activities and e-books. The program builds fast and effortless word recognition in a highly motivating way with interactive animations, fun songs and characters, and exciting rewards.

SPECIAL FREE TRIAL OFFER: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.

5 activities to support your child’s language development

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Parents play a significant role in encouraging their child’s language development. Most children learn basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills from birth through to grade three.

Studies show that children who are read to and spoken with regularly during early childhood will have a wider vocabulary and stronger literacy skills overall than those who aren’t. Additionally, there are many fun and simple activities that parents can do with their child to develop and support essential speech and language skills.

1. Storytelling

Storytelling is a great family activity that encourages language development and introduces new vocabulary. Make up stories together with your child including characters, conflict and a happy ending. Sit down to look at family photographs, talking about who is in the photograph, what they were doing and where they were. Ask your child to retell stories and set aside time for regular reading. You can even narrate the day with your child as it unfolds, e.g. “Now we’re going outside to water the flowers. When we finish, we’ll prepare the table for lunch.”

2. Labelling game

Cut pieces of cardboard paper and write the words for common items found around the house. These can include things like furniture, bathroom items, articles of clothing and children’s toys. Read each word aloud and ask your child to place it on top of the correct item. Gradually you can begin writing words for adjectives to describe household items. Include new adjectives that your child may not know and help them find items that can be described using that word. Encourage them to say each word aloud and even think of some of their own adjectives.

3. Picture book spotters

Read picture books with your child and pause to look at and discuss the pictures. Repeat what you have read in the story by pointing out to what is happening in the pictures. Encourage your child to make comments by asking them what else they can spot, e.g. “Big Ted is wearing his red shirt! What else is he wearing on his feet?” “The princess is sitting in the garden. What else can we see in the garden?”

4. Word chain

Building on the words and language your child already uses is an easy way to strengthen their language skills. Cut pieces of cardboard paper and write the words for different nouns and verbs your child is familiar with. Then write the words for different adjectives and adverbs. Help your child to make a ‘word chain’ using one noun or verb and as many adjectives and adverbs as possible. For example, if the word is ‘car’, you may select words like ‘big’, ‘fast’, ‘red’, ‘shiny’ or ‘noisy’ to create a word chain. Building language can also be incorporated into everyday situations. For example, if your child says the word ‘cat’, you can say, ‘soft cat’ or ‘sleepy cat’.

5. Role-playing

Role-playing is a fun and powerful way to expand your child’s imagination and introduce related language and words. Using costumes and props (or imaginary ones!), you can role-play scenarios which involve different characters to introduce related words and stretch your child’s imaginative play skills. For example, if you pretend to be a teacher, include as many related words as possible, e.g. classroom, students, blackboard, desk, books, learning, reading etc.

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills, including fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Start your free two week trial today.

5 Things to Know About Your Child’s Reading Level

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Finding suitable books for your child is very important. Books that are too difficult may cause frustration and discouragement, while books that are too easy can sometimes be boring.

The best way to support a confident lifelong reader is by choosing texts that are appropriately matched to their reading ability. This is where reading levels come into play.

Here are five things you should know about reading levels, and what your child’s reading level means for them:

1. Why is my child’s reading level important?

Reading levels provide a measurement that considers the individual child. Your child’s reading level is informed by a series of assessments administered and evaluated by teaching staff.  Knowing your child’s reading level helps you find texts that are most suitable for them to read independently at home.

Choosing the right books for your child helps them build their reading confidence at their own pace and encourages them to read for both meaning and enjoyment.

2. How can my child’s reading level be measured?

One of the most widely used systems for reading level assessment is the Lexile Framework for Reading. The Lexile Framework determines your child’s reading level based on assessments, rather than general age or grade levels. It is an independent measure that looks at the difficulty of words and sentences, as well as the complexity of ideas presented and level of comprehension

The Lexile measure is shown as a number with an ‘L’ after it, for example, 880L is an 880 Lexile. Students complete a reading test to determine their Lexile reader measure.

Higher Lexile measures indicate a higher reading level. A Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for beginner readers to above 1600L for advanced readers.

3. What level should my child be reading at in each grade?

Always remember that there is no direct correspondence between a specific Lexile measure and a specific grade level.

Children learn to read at their own pace. Within any classroom or grade, there will usually be a range of readers and reading material to cater to different reading abilities.

Grade or age equivalent scores are helpful in estimating your child’s grade level performance, but should never be interpreted literally.

It can be easy to become too embroiled in what reading level your child is on, particularly in comparison to others in their class. But this can lead to children feeling pressured to “catch up” and eventually discouraged from reading altogether.

4. How do I find out about my child’s reading level?

Reading level assessments are usually carried out in your child’s school. You can ask your child’s teacher what their reading level is and to recommend an appropriate reading list for them.

If you can’t find out your child’s reading level through school, you can still choose suitable books for them using the Five Finger Rule.

5. How can I find books that match my child’s reading level?

Consult your child’s teacher or ask your local librarian to recommend books that suit your child’s reading level. Reading Eggs also contains over 2000 e-books in the Reading Eggspress Library which are arranged by reading age and Lexile level. Your child can complete a placement test to determine his or her estimated reading age and reading level.

Remember, parents play a vital role in creating a love of reading in their children. Pressuring them to rush through reading levels can be detrimental to their progress and overall confidence.

Always keep in mind that reading levels only serve to determine your child’s “just right” level in order to find the books that will pave their way towards steady progress and, ultimately, a lifelong love of reading.

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program for children aged 3-13. 

SPECIAL FREE TRIAL OFFER! Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.