Reading with your child

Aug 2015
The majority of brain development occurs in the first three years of a child's life.

Guest post from the National Literacy Trust

Lots of parents start with good intentions to read to their child more regularly, but the pressures of busy daily life can often mean reading is overlooked.

The good news is that spending just ten minutes reading with your child each day can make a huge difference to their development and instil a positive attitude towards reading from an early age.

National Literacy Trust research shows reading outside the classroom on a daily basis has a significant impact on children's attainment levels, which means, as parents, you can make a real difference at home.

Start early
The majority of brain development occurs in the first three years of a child's life, so reading to babies and toddlers can really help to make the most of this time. Sharing books is an excellent way to support your child's language development - talk about the pictures and give your child time to respond.

Get into a routine
By setting aside a specific time for family reading every day, it will soon become as much a part of your routine as brushing your teeth! Stick to this routine when you're on holiday -  it'll be exciting to read somewhere new.

Mix up your reading material
Reading doesn't have to mean books! Introduce your child to newspapers, TV guides, comics and magazines too. You can also ask them to help find out information from the internet or cookery books. They will feel like they are helping with something important and learn new words without it feeling like reading practice.

Have fun
To keep your child engaged, you need make sure reading doesn't become a chore. Using funny voices for each character is a great way to do this - don't be afraid to try out different accents to make your child laugh! You could even try acting out parts of the story together to help develop your child's imagination and bring the story to life.

Go on a journey together
As your child gets older, pick a longer chapter book that you can go back to each day. It'll be more of an experience as you and your child look forward to finding out what happens next, and will help to build their memory and understanding. You could even read a whole series together!

Let them choose
Take the time to find out what really captures your child's imagination. Ask them questions about the books you've read together and don't be afraid to try something new. Heading to your local library together can be a great way to make reading together more of an experience and get your child excited about choosing a new book.

Be a reading role model
Let your child see you reading often - this can have a huge impact on your child's relationship with reading. Set a good example by talking about the reading you do at work and home and make sure your child knows that reading is an important part of your life.

Visit the National Literacy Trust's Words for Life website for more tips, developmental milestones and fun literacy-boosting activities for the family.