If keeping up with the home reading schedule is regularly turning into a fight with your little one, then read on for some helpful ideas…

When my youngest finally brought home a reading book after half a term at school, I was full of excitement at the years of joy that lay ahead of him. I swooned a little embarrassingly as he sounded out c-a-t and then confidently said “cat!” And I was certain that, like me, he was also thrilled that he had now begun his reading journey. Actually, I think he was more amused by my high pitched squeals of delight than anything else.

Why?

Well, if you think about it from his point of view, suddenly having to decode all of these letters into words is incredibly hard work and almost like learning to speak again. And so, whilst my excitement kept him going for a little while, it wasn’t long before I encountered resistance when reading time approached.

I had to get creative…

There are some things that it’s a parents job to do: make sure your child can swim; make sure that they eat a balanced diet and make sure they are getting enough sleep. I guess you may disagree with this, but I also see it as my job to encourage my children with their reading to build on the great work their teachers do with them.

So, these are some of the things I’ve been doing:

  1. Keep things fun – make reading their school book interactive by talking about the characters and their decisions. There is often a quiz at the end of these books so I’ll have a go at some of these.
  2. Rewards – I say this tentatively, because in my adult mind, reading IS the reward, however I really had to learn that if this was where I wanted to get my child to, then small incentives such as a sticker or ten minutes of TV is a small price to pay.
  3. Keep it fresh – There are loads of phonics/early reading books out there. Whatever your child is doing at school, why not get some books of your own with different characters for them to enjoy. You can often find these in charity shops or second hand on ebay, so there’s no need to spend loads of money. Some ideas are ‘The Oxford Reading Tree‘ series; The ‘Read, Write, Inc’ series and the Ladybird Phonics books –  it’s worth looking out for sets of these with The Book People who often have really good offers. Both my boys really like ‘The Avengers’, so I stocked up on these Early Readers as well.  It’s worth seeing what other ‘early readers’ you can find depending on your child’s interests, for example I’ve seen ‘Frozen’ and ‘Paw Patrol’ in places.
  4. Keep reading to your children – The last thing I wanted to do was to take away the joy of stories, so we always enjoy stories together and sometimes he wants to read a little bit, and sometimes he doesn’t – but that’s not really the point. I never want them to stop loving books and stories.
  5. Keep reading – by which I mean, school books are not the only reading material available. Whether it’s using fridge magnets, reading road signs, shop signs, comics, menus or recipes, by encouraging them to read other things, they will grow in ability and confidence as well as see that reading is relevant to every part of their lives.
  6. Finally, having an older sibling who reads a lot has also had its uses. My youngest is often in awe of his big brother’s ability and the amazing things he reads, but I use this to point out that it won’t be long until he can also read The Fantastic Mr Fox, Matilda, Bad Dad, How to train your dragon etc…

What now?

At the moment, we have our ups and downs, but for the most part my youngest child is enjoying reading and doesn’t seem to feel overwhelmed by trying out new words and sounds. I keep reminding myself that for a 4 year old, reading is hard work and this helps me be patient with him. I don’t find patience easy, but I know that if he grows into a confident reader then that will help him in so many ways so I really don’t want to turn him off by snapping at him – needless to say I’ve got really good at breathing slowly and counting to 5!

I hope you have found these ideas helpful. Let me know what else you’ve found helpful or leave a comment to share with others.

Thanks for reading!

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