As a primary teacher and mother of four, Rachel offers some advice on how to support your child's reading.
Reading is a subject I am passionate about: I worked as a full-time primary school teacher, am a mother of four children and have spent the last eighteen years delivering seminars to tens of thousands of working parents on the subject of how they can support their children's reading.
In all my experience and research, one very powerful thing I read always sticks out in my mind. A study back in 2002 covering 31 countries concluded that 'Being more enthusiastic about reading and a frequent reader was more of an advantage, on its own, than having well-educated parents in good jobs.' Children from deprived backgrounds performed better in tests if they enjoyed reading, than those from more affluent families.
Parents are a child's first and most important teacher and play a vital role in motivating their child and trying to instil a love of reading.
75% of brain development occurs in the first two years of life and reading aloud to children from birth has enormous benefit. It introduces babies to the structure and rhythm of language, forming the building blocks for reading and writing. This early experience will shape their future social, communication and learning skills. As they move to the toddler years and beyond, reading helps to develop their vocabulary, listening skills, concentration, stimulates their imagination, exposes them to new situations and supports their emotional development.
From around the age of seven upwards, reading is the key to gaining knowledge and enables children to access all areas of the school curriculum. It plays a vital role in children's social and intellectual development, teaching compassion, sensitivity and how to make judgements.
How do we encourage a child to read for pleasure?
Most young children enjoy being read aloud to by an adult and the majority will learn to read independently at primary school. Although many children can read they are not all 'readers'. There are hundreds of other things they would rather be doing, usually involving some form of screen.
Here are a number of key tips to establish the habit of reading and encourage your child to read for pleasure:
Ten minutes a night doesn't really allow you to 'get into' a book. Longer periods of uninterrupted time such as weekends or school holidays are a more productive time for reading. One trick is to say lights out unless you are reading!