In the news this week there have been reports of a study carried out by the Institute of Education at the University of London, which looked at the reading habits of around 6,000 children in the 1970 British Cohort Study. It analysed the links between how often children read and their test results in maths, vocabulary and spelling at the ages of five, ten and 16. Interestingly, the study found that reading for pleasure is more important to a child’s development than how educated their parents are, and that those who read often during their childhood receive higher results in tests at age 16.
Additionally, reading opens the door to a world of adventure, culture, diversity and knowledge, and is an activity vital to the development of curiosity and a love of learning. So, how can you help to develop your child’s reading skills, so they can enjoy these numerous benefits? Here are some ideas:
Surround them with books
By surrounding your child with books and reading material, both around the house and in their bedroom, your child will be more inclined to pick them up and get absorbed in the pages. With so many other games, electronic devices and programmes battling for your child’s attention, you will want to give them every opportunity to explore the wonders of the written word.
Encourage a wide variety of books and reading materials
At Kumon, we believe that a part of developing strong reading skills is the ability to self-select a wide range of reading material. This doesn’t need to be limited to books, but can also include newspapers, magazines, websites and other literature.
Set a good example
Children commonly copy the behaviour of their parents. Therefore, if they see you regularly picking up a book, your child may be more likely to do the same. Talk to them about what you are reading, the characters you have met and what you think might happen next, and encourage them to do the same.
Read to each other
Reading to your children can be a powerful way to get them excited about stories and expose them to text more advanced than they are able to read themselves. As well as reading to them, encourage your child to read to you. Be patient with their mistakes and pay attention to the story so you can discuss it together afterwards. You might like to ask them to summarise the story afterwards to gauge their level of understanding.
Take them to the library
Providing your child with a wealth of books doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune at the book shop. Don’t forget the trusty local library, which will enable your child to loan a plethora of books free of charge. Whilst you are there, you could also take advantage of the many other services the library has to offer, such as internet access and DVD hire.
Consider enrolling them on a reading programme
There are a number of supplementary activities your child can benefit from outside of school. In addition to football, dance classes and swimming, your child may also benefit from enrolling on a reading programme, such as the Kumon English Programme. The Kumon programme aims to develop a high reading ability and nurture a life-long love of reading in each student. There is also a Recommended Reading List to complement the worksheets, offering hundreds of fantastic books for a wide range of interests and abilities.