How to Tell If Your Child Is Ready for Chapter Books

when is a child ready for chapter books

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Opening the door to chapter books is an exciting milestone for both you and your child. It means they are ready to make a giant leap into faraway places and expand their imagination even further, with less reliance on pictures.

There are several skills children need to acquire before transitioning to longer chapter books. Diving in before your child is ready can risk diminishing their enthusiasm for reading and lower their reading confidence.

Here are some indicators that your child is ready to start reading longer chapter books:

1. They remember what they have read

Chapter books usually require breaking up a story over several sittings, so it’s important that your child can remember what they have read a few days, or even a week later.

The day after you have read a new book with your child, ask them questions about the story, the characters, and the events. A good idea is to encourage them to tell the story – in the right order – to a younger sibling or a relative. You can also help your child role-play the story using fun props, or to draw picture of key events and arrange them into chronological order. Read tips on how to tell if your child is reading for meaning.

2. They can make predictions about stories

Part of the excitement of reading chapter books is anticipating what might happen next. The ability to make predictions about a story signifies that your child has the comprehension skills needed to fully understand what they read. To encourage your child to make predictions, stop periodically while reading to ask them what might happen next. Readers with strong comprehension skills will be able to take what they have already read and use that information to make predictions.

3. They can picture stories in their head without visual aids

Chapter books rely less on pictures and illustrations to create details about a story. Before reading chapter books with your child, see if your child can sum up or illustrate a story they’ve just read without looking at any of the pictures.

4. They know how to choose books

Reading longer stories means that your child needs to be able to stay interested long enough to reach the end. By the time your child transitions to chapter books, they would ideally have a preference, whether it be a particular genre (e.g. comedy, adventure, history) or subject matter. Let them choose which books they want to read and help them choose by looking at the cover, reading the back blurb, scanning the text (font size, paragraph length), and deciding if it’s a book they want to read.

5. They are equipped with enough vocabulary

Your child should know enough words to embark on longer chapter books. Reading a book with too many unfamiliar words can hurt their confidence and motivation. Remember to use the five finger rule before starting a new book. Your child should also be able to use context clues to determine the meaning of words they don’t know. Try these tips to build your child’s vocabulary at home.

Some other tips to consider when introducing your child to chapter books:

  • start with shorter chapters – avoid taking on too much too soon, and ease in with shorter reading sessions
  • choose books with some pictures – chapters books with pictures and illustrations will ease the transition
  • talk about the book and make predictions – between sittings, have daily conversations about the story and what you think might happen next
  • show them how to recap – pick up where you left off between sittings by showing your child how to revisit the last chapter and refresh your memory
  • don’t move away from picture books – continue reading picture books with your child and maintain reading variety

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5 Pain-Free Ways to Help Your Child Learn Grammar

help child learn grammar

Helping children learn the rules of English grammar can be a struggle. Grammar can be difficult, even for most grownups.

But the good news is that learning grammar doesn’t always have to end in frustration. With a few fun and creative tricks up your sleeve, you can help your child navigate the twists and turns of English grammar with confidence, enthusiasm and ease. Here are five fun activities you can try together at home:

1. Sentence building game

You will need eight differently coloured pencils or pens, one sheet of paper and some index cards. On your sheet of paper, write down eight most common parts of speech, and go over them with your child. These include: nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Then place a colour code against each of the eight parts of speech using your pencils or pens.

On your index cards, ask your child to help you think of and write down 10-20 words for each category. Try to stick with adverbs that end in –ly, which are easier for most children to work with. Write only one word on each card using the correct colour that matches your colour code. Group your cards by category/colour and place them facing down on a hard surface. Ask your child to pick out one word from each group and use those words to build a sentence. For younger children, it’s best to start with just nouns, verbs and adjectives, and then slowly introduce other parts of speech as they gain more confidence. If you play this game regularly, try to stick to using the same colour code each time to help your child remember specific parts of speech by associating them with colours.

2. Spot the mistakes

Editing text for spelling and grammatical mistakes can be turned into a fun challenge for your child. Write one or two paragraphs down on a sheet of paper. Try to write something that your child would be interested in reading, or may find amusing or funny. As you write, include a single spelling or grammatical mistake in every two or three sentences. This may include putting an apostrophe or comma in the wrong place, misusing a question mark, or including common spelling mistakes that many children (and adults!) get wrong (e.g. there instead of their or they’re, alot instead of a lot, untill instead of until).

Give your child a red pencil or pen to spot the mistakes and mark them on the paper – just like a teacher would. Most children will enjoy this playful role-reversal and may even give you an overall score for effort!

3. Play the Simon Says of grammar

Many children respond best to a multi-sensory approach to learning. Actions and movement while learning can help cement conceptual understanding.  A great game to play with your child involves allocating a different action for each part of speech. For example, your child can place their hands on their head for a noun (e.g. table or shoe), jump on the spot for a verb (e.g. run or play), or touch the tip of their nose for an adjective (e.g. cold or funny). Once your child has rehearsed each action a few times, call out a word and ask them to do the correct action. This game can be a lot of fun with siblings, a group of friends, or the whole family. If you’re playing in a group, encourage each player to do the actions as quickly as possible, with the fastest person winning the game – a similar concept to playing Simon Says!

4. Cap-ital letters

This game is best played with three or more people, including one reader. You will need one cap for each player and a short picture book, story or simple song lyrics to read aloud. Explain that players will need to put on their cap each time they hear where a capital letter may be needed. To get the most out of this activity, choose texts that include short sentences that are easy to hear, and also include a handful of proper nouns (e.g. Jane, London, New York) and proper adjectives (e.g. Australian, English, Chinese). You can start the game by carefully reading each sentence of your text aloud. Every time a capital letter is needed, the players should signal by putting their caps on their heads. Remember to use the appropriate expressions while reading (e.g. placing emphasis on exclamation points, question marks, pauses, and doing voices for different characters) and encourage other players to do the same.

5. Present and past tense matching game

This game is a fun way to help your child reinforce their understanding of present and past verb tenses.  Using index cards and a pen or pencil, write the past and present verb tenses of different words, with one word on each card. Some examples include: jump and jumped, see and saw, play and played, run and ran. Use a blue pen or pencil to write present tense verbs and red to write past tense verbs, so that each set of matching words has one blue word and one red.

Mix up your cards and put them into a hat. Invite your child to pick out the cards one by one and read each word aloud. Once a card has been read aloud, place them face-up on a hard surface. When the hat is empty, ask your child to match each blue card to the correct red card.

Do you have any fun grammar activities that you play with your child? Share them in the comments below!

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