Reading Skills

Reading Between the Lines: Supporting Your Child’s Reading and Writing Skills

The abrupt onslaught of the cooler weather has reminded us that suddenly we are half way through the school year! As busy families we are trying to keep on top of the hectic school calendar, weekend sport and extra curricular activities whilst juggling our own work and home priorities.

When Reading and Writing Become Challenging

Your child has been in their new class for close to two terms and this is often when families start approaching us with concerns regarding their child’s academic progress. Perhaps you’re noticing that compared to previous school years, homework is challenging or taking longer to complete. Perhaps your child’s teacher has mentioned that they are struggling with reading or writing. Recent NAPLAN results or half yearly reports may also be indicating that your child is having difficulty building on their reading skills. Additionally, as the sickness season creeps in, many families become concerned that their child is missing ‘chunks’ of learning which can affect their progress.

The Importance of Parental Involvement in their Child’s Reading Development

At A Growing Understanding, we know that at this time of year parents can feel overwhelmed with how best to support their child’s reading skills in addition to other weekly commitments. Research indicates that parental involvement in their child’s learning has positive effects on academic achievement, including reading skills (Webster-Stratton, 1999) but we appreciate that it can be difficult to know where to start! There are numerous studies supporting the importance of reading to your child (e.g. Burton, 2013) but this is just the beginning of book appreciation. Whether your child is just beginning their reading and writing journey through learning sounds and words, or whether your older child is tackling abstract comprehension and structured writing pieces, we have some simple steps that you can incorporate into your day to support your child’s reading development.

Supporting Reading Skills in Emerging Readers/Kindergarten Children:

Whether you’re reviewing your child’s home reader or engaged in shared reading, here are our favourite tips for maximising reading time with your child:

  1. Before you open the story – help your child to make simple predictions based on the title and the front cover. Flick through the story and discuss the pictures. Take turns ‘guessing’ what the story might be about. This is a valuable way to help your child use the pictures as predictors.
  2. Talk about the pictures on each page through labelling items, e.g. ‘A cow! Can you find another farm animal on the page?’. This helps your child learn new vocabulary.
  3. Relate the story to previous experiences, e.g. ‘They are building sandcastles at the beach. What did we do at the beach last time we went?’. This helps your child relate stories to their own experiences.
  4. Check for comprehension as you progress through the story through asking a ‘Wh’ question, e.g. ‘What is happening?’ or ‘Where are they going?’ or ‘Who is going?’. This helps to build your child’s comprehension skills and further develop vocabulary.

Stories Under the Tree’ – A Growing Understanding Community Initiative

Come along to A Growing Understanding’s monthly event – ‘Stories Under the Tree’! This is a free community event held at Whitebridge Park on the second Wednesday of the month at 9:30am. We use this time to come together as a community and promote a love of reading through providing a range of shared book experiences for families. Bring along a coffee and morning tea and join us on the picnic rugs. There is a different theme each month – June’s theme ‘Superheroes’ is expected to be a huge hit!

Supporting Reading and Writing Development in Older Children:

For older children in primary school and beyond, reading and writing skills involve developing an awareness of abstract concepts (finding information that is not necessarily explained through the story), as well as longer, more complicated vocabulary and sentence structure and reading texts for different audiences. Here are our favourite tips for maximising reading time with your older child:

1.Encourage your child to read a wide range of genres, e.g. fiction, science fiction, adventure, fantasy.

2.If you’re noticing your child’s spelling words are becoming challenging, take turns putting one of the words into a sentence around the dinner table or create a simple memory game. This repetition helps your child remember the word and build connections regarding the meaning.

3.When cooking or playing a board game, encourage your child to read the instructions. This not only provides reading practice but also helps your child to build appreciation for different text structures.

4.Apply the 3-2-1 strategy when reading with your child – at the end of the book or article, have your child share three things they learned, two things they found interesting and one question they have. This technique encourages your child to think critically about the content and checks for comprehension.

5.Speak to your child’s teacher if you are noticing that your child is having ongoing difficulties with literacy skills.

So as the weather cools down and our bodies enter hibernation mode, there is no better time to snuggle under the doona and read with your child. Try our tips to enhance the experience and if you’re concerned or would like to know more information, we are here to chat.

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