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How do I Teach my Child to Read?

A mother reading with her child

It is a privilege and (mostly!) a pleasure for a parent to guide their child on the first steps towards becoming a fully-fledged reader. Most young children are eager to explore the magic of how squiggles on a page transform into worlds of fiction and fact.

A common concern for parents thinking of teaching their child to read is that they should really leave it to the professionals or that they might be using methods which could confuse their child once they get to school. The reality is that most children will benefit from any one to one help a parent can give and all you need is a good reading scheme, time and a bit of patience. The majority of UK schools use phonics-based teaching methods where the child is introduced to key phonics in a systematic order and given lots of practice before moving on to the next sound. The practice element is key to successful reading and if the ‘practice’ doesn’t happen, it can slow down the process of learning to read fluently.

Tips for helping your child to become a fluent reader

  1. It’s hard to be prescriptive about when to begin, but for many children, it’s around their fourth birthday

  2. Choose a beginning reading scheme – naturally, we think ours (Piper Books BRI) is perfect for the job but there are others out there

  3. Follow through the books in strict order as you are introducing specific sounds associated with symbols and your child will need lots of practice of each one before moving on to the next

  4. Get comfortable and remove all distractions including phones, screens, toys, food etc

  5. Stick to bite-size sessions – no more than 10-15 minutes daily

  6. Try not to jump in to help, let your child take control. It’s all about recognition and repetition

  7. Pictures can enhance a story but can also offer a distraction so pull your child’s focus back to the letters and sounds

  8. Stay positive and if you feel you are getting impatient, take a break but you will probably find that you don’t have to do much more than correct misuse of a sound here and there

If you are using BRI, a child can 'read' a 'real story' from day one and they can get really excited about that. It is truly remarkable how much information can be conveyed by just five letter-sounds New letter sounds and words are gradually drip-fed into each book, giving slower learners the abundant practice they need, and providing more ‘natural’ readers with a flying head-start.

And we are always happy to help with any questions as the reading journey progresses. All children are different, of course, and some will take longer than others. But this is normal and the only things necessary are patience, practice – and no pressure!


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