11 ways to take your child's reading to the next level
1. Use morphology to understand the spelling of an unfamiliar word
Morphology is the study of how words are formed and how they relate to other words.
2. Use syntax to establish the meaning of an unfamiliar word
Try to get your child in the habit of reading a word in the context of its sentence rather than in isolation. If a word is tricky, ask them to look at the words surrounding it and try to guess what the word could be and what it might mean. A dictionary is a brilliant primary literacy tool and there are lots of dictionaries designed specially for children to choose from.
3. Error correction
Teach your child ways to self-correct. If a word is causing problems, encourage them to say it aloud. Does it sound right? Why doesn’t it sound right? Run through a checklist of words which might fit that slot in a sentence.
4. Swap key words
Play word games as you’re reading. For example, ask your child what words you could replace existing words with and how it would change the meaning of the sentence.
5. Discuss characters and situations as they arise
Once your child is able to read the words, make sure they understand the plot and characters as they go along. Why is this character behaving in a certain way? What do they think might happen as a result of this action? Reading comprehension is an important skill which your child will acquire during their time in primary school.
6. Don’t just have them read aloud to you
Encourage your child to read books to a younger sibling or cousin if possible. This will encourage them to alter their delivery and care more about how the words sound and how the meaning is conveyed.
Research also shows that reading to a pet can be very beneficial for children, as it offers them the opportunity to practise their skills without the pressure of having to read perfectly every time.
7. Encourage cross-referencing
Look up the meaning of a word and, while you’re doing so, suggest looking for other similar words that could also have been used. A primary thesaurus will also help your child think about synonyms and antonyms and help develop their vocabulary.
8. Look into the origins of a word
When you’re looking up the meaning or spelling of a word, encourage your child to find out more about its origin. This will help consolidate a broader knowledge of language and how it works.
9. Look up the French for a word
Why not use this word exploration process to find non-English words for a concepts, too? Do it in moderation to minimise confusion, but it will help to engender a love of words (language-learning apps are a great way for kids to begin to learn about other cultures and languages).
10. Make 'word books' of difficult words encountered when reading
This will encourage your child to write the words down and also have a handy reference guide for when they come across them in the future. You could also write tricky homophones (words that sound the same but are spelt differently, like fair and fare or witch and which) next to them.
11. Learn how, when and why a text was written
Do a bit of digging to find out more about the origins of a text. Who is the author? Has the author written other similar things? Why did they write the text? Who else has written in a similar style? Lots of classic stories and texts are perfect for children to discover – we recommend KS1 classics, KS2 classics and modern classics for primary school children.