Raising Confident and Independent Readers

Generally, children start with letter recognition and phonic type basic reading from theage of 4. They then progress to easy readers where they can read by themselves by the age of 6-7. If your child is school going, a vital part of the school curriculum, from age 6, would be developing independent reading skills. By the age of 7-8, your child would be able to read independently and use the correct expressions and emphasis. While a lot of “reading education” is done at school, it really is beneficial for you to aid and develop it from home also. 

In one of my earlier posts, “Help Your Pre-Schooler Learn How toRead” I introduced the technical aspects of reading development. Now we will look at how you can encourage independent reading. 

1. Encourage your child to read aloud

Inspire your child to read aloud. If you”shush” or interrupt your child while reading aloud, he or she will lose confidence and will feel that reading is something taboo and private. Instead, promote reading aloud, encourage the use of sounds/expressions and emphasis. Show interest in your child when he or she wants to read to you, even if they’ve read the book 100 times

This can help build your child’s confidence in his ability to read and help him enjoy learning new skills.

Take turns reading with your child to model more advanced reading skill

2. When your child is reading, don’t be distracted and don’t add distractions

It’s so easy to pick up a phone or let your mind slip into your “to-do-list”,while your child is reading, especially if its the same story that’s been read 100 times before. But if you do this, or seem distracted or tend to chores while your child is reading to you, he or she will feel that their effort isn’t good enough, that you aren’t interested, and it will kill their reading journey.

 At the same time, (something I am guilty off), don’t add distractions to the reading journey. Sometimes when my son is trying to read or I am reading to him, I focus more on him getting the letters right, or going over certain words ad nauseum. It completely distracts him from the story making him feel like story time is more of a school lesson than an enjoyable escape

3. Don’t focus on the mistakes

This stems from my “adding distractions” point. By always correcting your child’s pronunciation, you turn reading into a task oriented job as opposed to an enjoyable story to escape into. Even if your child is making an effort to try to read (and gets the words wrong) that already says that they are inspired to read and this a fire that needs to be kindled, not to be put out. 

Positive energy, applauding your child for how well he or she is doing, is going to do alot more than constantly putting your child down for every error. If you feel like the errors are hindering development, you could tackle the errors at a later stage, for example a fun activity set aside for practising pronunciation. Or if a word being used doesn’t make sense, you could say, “Please just read that line again to me. I don’t think I understood it properly”.  

4. Don’t get angry or frustrated at your child’s progress

Yes, little Timmy from your son’s class may already be reading Harry Potter at the age of 5, but don’t let that get to you. Don’t be disappointed or concerned that your child isn’t the best reader in the class. Don’t add an unnecessary element of competition. This is just going to stress you and your child out more. Each child will develop in their own time.

In fact, research shows thateven if a child is an early reader, by 2nd/3rd grade (Age 7-9), all children are generally at the same level.

 Praise, Encouragement and practise will really be the impetus in your child’s reading journey

5. Make books easily accessible

Leave books in your child’s bedroom, leave some in the playroom, hell, leave some inthe toilet! Let your child choose books to buy, take your child to the library, let your child even get the newspaper.

The more your child sees books, the more he or she will want to read. the more your child is empowered to choose his or her own reading material, the more your child will grow into a confident, inquisitive and independent reader!

I hope these few tips will come in handy as your child enters the world of independent reading! Let me know if you have more tips to add or if you disagree with any of the ones here!

Until Next post xxx Iman 

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