Building literacy skills at home

Helping your child to learn to read is not just about skills, it’s also about enjoyment, encouragement and developing confidence. Have fun!

Arlia - Highly commended in the photography competition
Arlia reads The Lion,the Witch and the Wardrobe in the back yard. Flickr CCL-2012-12-Libary comp pics 002

Getting reading material

  • Offer your child a wide choice of authors and types of books.
  • Get your child their own library card.
  • Visit the library regularly and let your child select some of their own books.
  • Come along to the library storytimes.

Make reading a fun part of daily life

  • Read to your child! Try to set aside a time devoted to shared reading every day and make it a special time you both enjoy – low pressure, cosy, comfortable and quiet.
  • Use nursery rhymes, songs and finger plays to introduce early awareness of speech sounds. They boost language development and imagination, and help to foster an early understanding of sequence and story.
  • With little ones, let them turn the pages and point to words and pictures while you’re reading. Use lots of expression on your face, different voices for different characters and sound effects.
  • Let them see you reading, and enjoying it! Anything from recipes, newspapers, magazines, maps to novels. Encourage family members to talk about what they read and show that reading relates to real life.
  • Suggest reading related to your child’s interests, whatever their age. Hobbies, television programmes, sports — anything that gets their attention.

Encourage storytelling

  • Spend time talking about things you do, things you see, people you meet and so on. Talk about why and how you’re doing things around the house.
  • Encourage your child to talk about her experiences. Really listen to them.
  • Tell stories to your child and encourage her to tell you stories about outings or visits, or from their imagination. Write these stories into a book, which your child can illustrate and you can read together.
  • When you are sharing a story, encourage your child to guess what will happen at various points. Before you begin the story, talk about the front cover and guess what the book might be about. Encourage your child to ask questions.
  • Learning depends on repetition. Many stories and rhymes contain lots of repetition and your child will ask for favourites over and over again
  • Together, make scrapbooks about your family and special times you’ve shared.
  • Collect pictures and have your child put them together to tell different stories.

More tips and conversation starters

  • Make labels which your child can match to objects in his room or around the house or garden.
  • Play card games such as snap and word games such as "I spy". Memory games will encourage your child to enjoy looking and remembering. Spot the difference games are great for concentration and memory too.
  • Get your child to find street signs that start with a certain letter, or find words that start with the same letter sound (e.g. sss snake)
  • Encourage "print recognition" in everyday situations (e.g. reading signs like 'Swimming pool', or 'library').
  • Before you go to the supermarket, write a shopping list together. Give your child things to look for and tick them off as you go.
  • Read the labels on packets of food and talk about where the food has come from.
  • Try making up rhyming words e.g. cat-fat. It doesn’t matter if they are nonsense words.
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