Teachers Share Their Best Tips to Read at Home with Your Child
A child’s love for reading starts at home. We asked four teachers for their best family reading tips for parents.
We know that reading is the foundation of all learning. Starting readers young ignites their imagination, enhances their communication skills, and sets them up for success later in life. Passionate readers benefit from better self-esteem, health, and employment opportunities.
Parents and caregivers play a key part in a reader’s journey. They can create a safe and positive reading environment at home, and share their love for a good book. Plus, books help families bond over reading and start important conversations.
But what are the best ways to keep children engaged in reading at home? How can we encourage a reluctant reader to dedicate time to books over the summer? What if there aren’t many books around the house or a library close by?
To help caregivers keep children reading even when school is out, we asked four teachers for advice. From India to Peru, from Ghana to the US, here are their best reading strategies for parents.
Create the right environment
When parents ask Ms Rajni, who teaches at a primary school in Delhi, India, how to improve their children’s reading skills at home, she shares many tips to help learners from all backgrounds. From story to sounds, from repetition to play, there are many elements to an engaging reading session.
But the first step is always to create a comfortable reading environment at home. That’s because a dedicated space in the house helps children develop a strong reading routine. Here are a few suggestions:
- Find a quiet corner in the house to sit together with your child.
- Make the reading corner a special place in the house for your child to read, write and draw. You can decorate it with your child and allow them to pick colors and textures.
- Keep books and other reading materials where children can easily reach them.
- Position the book, phone, or tablet so that your child is able to see the text and illustrations.
Empower young readers
Teacher Waldir Chacón works in a public school in Peru’s Cusco region. He told us about the importance of empowering young readers and putting children at the heart of reading time:
“From my experience, the best advice for reading at home is that students share the readings as storytellers with their parents and siblings. The family listens to the student and makes them feel important. From this, students will feel safe reading and telling what they understood, and become storytellers too.”
Make it fun
Incorporating games into reading is a great way to motivate children and help them fall in love with books. Worldreader’s BookSmart app includes play-based activities to turn storytime into fun time and help develop reading and socioemotional skills.
Teacher Mary Schimmelbusch from Seattle, US, gave us a great example of gamified reading. This summer, she created a reading scavenger hunt – she provided students with a list of countries, and children are reading through BookSmart to find stories or characters from each of the countries. When they read a story, they answer questions, and send their work back to Ms. Schimmelbusch.
Reading games not only make books more fun but help children create a community of readers and share their love for stories with their peers.
Read beyond books
Teacher Akubea Helina encourages parents in Kade, Ghana to take a beyond-books approach to reading. If your child is having a hard time following the story on the page, for example, why not accompany it with songs to sing together? Strategies include:
- Reading aloud together
- Listening to radio and TV reading programs, like the Read to Inspire storytime radio program run by Worldreader Ghana and CLASS FM
- Singing songs and reciting poems and rhymes together
- Completing play-based activities on BookSmart
- Visiting the public library to turn reading sessions into small adventures
The library is a great place to explore stories, especially for those who don’t have many books at home. But what if the local library is hard for you to reach? Digital reading can be an effective solution as it allows children to read anytime, anywhere. BookSmart is available on most devices for online and offline home reading.
Extra tips to support reading skills at home
Worldreader and its partners are helping children read in over 100 countries. Here are 10 more family reading tips we gathered along the way:
- Create interest in the story by discussing the cover page and title of the book.
- Place your finger under keywords as you read. Talk about the pictures in the story.
- Use sounds, songs, gestures, and words that rhyme to help your child learn about language and its many uses. Try to use different voices for different characters in the story.
- Readers are more likely to want to read something they pick out themselves – let your child decide what to read next.
- Talk to your child about the books they like. What one child may learn from a book may be different from another reader. Talk and discuss their learnings without dismissing their words.
- Children often like to re-read their favorite storybooks. It’s fine to read and enjoy their favorite stories several times.
- Ask questions about the story while reading – it’s a great time to connect parts of the story to what’s happening in your child’s life. Allow your child to interrupt and ask as many questions as they wish.
- Ask your child to close their eyes and follow the words of the story. This will help them picture the words and associate them with images.
- Make your child read aloud after you complete a sentence and encourage them to read independently.
- Read different types of books to expose your child to different kinds of writing.