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How to Teach your Child to Read

Mum reading with her child

Should I start teaching my child to read or leave it to the school?

With media focus on literacy levels, SATS tests and the National Curriculum, a parent can be forgiven for thinking that teaching a child to read is something best left to the school. Yet teaching a young child to read is one of the most satisfying activities for parents. As well as the great pleasure in watching a little one taking their first steps to becoming a reader, there are many advantages for a child afforded a head-start. It is during these first years that most of the connections in the brain are formed and learning to read encourages and stimulates this growth. Reading opens up a whole world of imagination and learning while expanding vocabulary, comprehension and knowledge.

As a thoroughly researched and trialled programme, Beginning Reading Instruction (BRI) makes learning as straightforward as possible. It takes only a matter of minutes to master the simple instructions, after which a young learner can take their first tiny steps towards reading ‘real stories’. BRI also dovetails with the phonics lessons that children receive from Reception onwards.

What is the best age to introduce my child to reading?

It’s hard to be prescriptive about when to begin, but around a child’s fourth birthday is generally a good time to test the waters. And as long as you stick to bite-size sessions – no more than 10-15 minutes daily – and make sure that reading time remains unpressurized, the experience can be immensely rewarding.

Practice makes perfect

Most parents are well aware of the importance of talking a lot with their child, and to what extent a wide vocabulary impacts on learning. In addition to teaching the ‘how to’ of reading, BRI offers abundant opportunities to engage in lively conversations about its irrepressible animal characters. First time round, it is important to ensure that the practice of decoding skills – the fundamental building blocks of reading – is paramount. A rereading of each book offers opportunities for fluency, expression and discussion. The characters bring the stories to life and trigger lots of talk about the adventures of Sam the lion, his mischievous little rat pal, Mat, and their endearing animal friends. The stories also encourage all those when, where, how, and why questions that tap into children’s insatiable curiosity. There aren’t many more satisfying activities than spending a few minutes each day launching a child on their path to lifelong literacy.


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