Reading and language development
All talk is useful and especially so when specifically directed to your child.
Becoming a fluent, skilled and attentive reader starts at the earliest stages and is partly driven by their parent’s talk supporting the expansion of vocabulary. Children who share books at home are seen to be more prepared to become committed and enthusiastic readers with a positive attitude to reading.
The new Early Years Framework, which came into effect this September, places an emphasis on language development and the impact it can have on all areas of development. One way one way you can support and promote this at home is through storytelling with your child, both reading and reciting familiar stories. Every child loves listening to stories!
The benefits children get from having stories read to them are hugely increased when parents talk and ask questions about the story. Asking your child, what they remember, and talking about the meanings of more complicated words can extend understanding and vocabulary. Through reading and stories, you can be transported to far-flung places, meet extraordinary people and discover and explore eye-opening situations which can expand and enrich our world.
The following suggestions have been taken from the DfE document, 10 top tips for parents to support children to read in 2021, published in July 2020
1. Encourage your child to read
Reading helps your child’s wellbeing, develops imagination and has educational benefits too. Just a few minutes a day can have a big impact on children of all ages.
2. Read aloud regularly
Try to read to your child every day. It’s a special time to snuggle up and enjoy a story. Stories matter and children love re-reading them and poring over the pictures. Try adding funny voices to bring characters to life.
3. Encourage reading choice
Give children lots of opportunities to read different things in their own time - it doesn’t just have to be books. There’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, magazines, recipes and much more. Try leaving interesting reading material in different places around the home and see who picks it up.
4. Read together
Choose a favourite time to read together as a family and enjoy it. This might be everyone reading the same book together, reading different things at the same time, or getting your children to read to each other. This time spent reading together can be relaxing for all.
5. Create a comfortable environment
Make a calm, comfortable place for your family to relax and read independently - or together.
6. Make use of your local library
Local libraries are amazing places to visit and explore all sorts of reading and ideas. They also offer brilliant online materials, including audiobooks and ebooks to borrow.
7. Talk about books
This is a great way to make connections, develop understanding and make reading even more enjoyable. Start by discussing the front cover and talking about what it reveals and suggests the book could be about. Then talk about what you’ve been reading and share ideas. You could discuss something that happened that surprised you, or something new that you found out. You could talk about how the book makes you feel and whether it reminds you of anything.
8. Bring reading to life
You could try cooking a recipe you’ve read together. Would you recommend it to a friend? Alternatively, play a game where you pretend to be the characters in a book, or discuss an interesting article you’ve read.
9. Make reading active
Play games that involve making connections between pictures, objects and words, such as reading about an object and finding similar things in your home. You could organise treasure hunts related to what you’re reading. Try creating your child’s very own book by using photos from your day and adding captions.
10. Engage your child in reading in a way that suits them
You know your child best and you’ll know the best times for your child to read. If they have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) then short, creative activities may be the way to get them most interested. If English is an additional language, encourage reading in a child’s first language, as well as in English. What matters most is that they enjoy it!