The new school year has started and our Brisbane Kids are in full swing with their homework. For many families, this brings a whole new level of stress and angst. After a full day at school, many children are exhausted and frustrated from sitting and listening – it’s hard work!! Home readers are the most common homework battle ground and are the source of many household arguments. Brisbane Kids has come up with a few helpful pointers that will hopefully soon turn around this tiresome chore into a fantastic family friendly reading event.
Start the Reading Year Afresh
Assess where your child is with their reading.
Speak to your child and their teacher. Often they are capable of reading at a higher level but are either not confident or are struggling with comprehension. Ask your child’s teacher how your child’s reading is tested and if they feel your child is grasping the story (comprehension). If you are still concerned, talk to your child’s teacher about dropping down a level or two to build confidence and comprehension skills.
Does your child like reading?
Many children find home-readers a huge chore. It’s boring, formal and feels like they are being judged. Take the pressure off with some of our fun and engaging tips below.
Use the 5 finger test.
Open the book to any page. Read it out loud. If the child can read all the words then the book is too easy. 1-2 challenging words it is just right, 3 challenge words may be too hard, but 4-5 challenge words means that the book is definitely too hard.
Be involved in the book selecting process.
Many children will choose books that visually excite them or look like familiar subjects, but the text may be too easy or too hard. Books should be engaging and interesting but also help stretch their language knowledge base without being daunting.
Sometimes you need to go back to go forward.
If your child is struggling or getting anxious about home-readers maybe try going down a level or two in readers. Conversely, if your child is bored and finding their readers too easy, try the next level up. Building confident readers will create competent readers.
Drop the pressure. Find new and exciting ways to engage your child’s reading interest. Make reading fun NOT formal. As your child gets older, remember, it doesn’t matter what they are reading, (just that they are reading). Maybe it’s a comic book or a book about gross topics, maybe a magazine which could be the perfect excuse to get a magazine subscription for them for Christmas.
Making Reading Fun
Children who have fun reading will find the process of home-readers more enjoyable and easier. Change where or how they read. Here are a few new and exciting ways to engage your child during home-reader time.
Find crazy, fun reading locations – read with a torch in the closet or under the bed covers. Read on the trampoline or under it on a picnic rug. Place a large blanket and pillows in the bath tub and read in there. Read under the kitchen table, at a park, beside the pool, to their siblings, pets or toys. Taking the pressure away from their usual “formal” reading area (couch, dining table etc.) helps children relax.
Look through the book and then find items that you and your child can dress up in. Read with a silly hat on or a wig or a large pair of play glasses. Read with a strange voice. Pretend to be a monster and read with a scary growl. Sing, dance or act out a scene from the book.
Read half the book then draw the ending without looking. Get your child to read the book and have you draw the storyline or characters without seeing the illustrations (children will love this and find what you draw compared to what the illustrator has very funny). Read the book then draw a flow chart of what happened. Create a new character and draw their role in the book.
Read the title then have a race to collect items from around the house that may relate to the storyline, whoever’s items are closest to the story wins. Create a quiz show to test comprehension. Create a Star Chart for your bookworm – when they reach 3 read books and they get a jelly lolly worm.
Have your children create their own reading nook wherever they like with pillows and blankets and all snuggle in to listen to the reader. Take turns to read a page each. Visit the library and find a book that another family member would like or shows their interest and read to them. Make time as a whole family to read your own books silently together (this shows children that everyone enjoys book time and it can be a time together but quiet).
Let your child choose when they will read to you. Maybe they need to run around or eat when they first get home. Reading after bath time or right before bedtime may mean your child is too tired. Discuss this with your child and jointly decide on the terms and time you will read together. Giving a child some autonomy over their learning is empowering. And maybe they would like to also choose one of the above ideas to help make the home-reader more enjoyable.
Lastly, go with your instinct. Remember your child’s teacher has most likely over 24 little friends to teach. Important issues may be missed or over looked. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s literacy, please seek further help.
The Five Finger Test
To check the reading level of your book, take this simple test:
- Open the book to the middle and choose any page to read.
- Read the page (aloud if possible).
- Put out 1 finger for every word you do not know or cannot pronounce.
If you have 5 fingers out, the book is too difficult to read without help. If you do not get any fingers up, but are reading very slowly and decoding almost every word, you will not enjoy the book.
Here’s the finger guide:
1 Finger: This book is o.k. for you.
2 Fingers: Still good.
3 Fingers: Could be a bit hard for you to understand.
4 Fingers: Will be too difficult to read and understand.
5 Fingers: Choose another book.
For more ideas to help you navigate successfully through school with your Brisbane Kids, take a look at the Education section of our website. You may also find our article Heaps of Riddles for Brisbane Kids to Use for Their School Talks comes in handy when it comes to class presentations.