How to help your child learn to read

by Lauren Abbott

Reading is a vital skill that every parent wants their child to learn, yet almost half of mums and dads admit they lack the confidence and know-how to help improve their child's reading at home.

But there is help at hand, both through a programme which uses footballers as role models to change children's attitudes towards reading, and through a new guide highlighting fun ways to help kids learn to read.

Reading opens up a world of possibilities

National Literacy Trust research has found that less than a third of young people read outside school every day, so it has joined up with the Premier League to run Premier League Reading Stars, an annual initiative which has enlisted the help of 20 Premier League footballers to use children's passion for football to motivate them to enjoy reading.

On the campaign website, players including Frank Lampard, Adam Lallana, Joey Barton and Boaz Myhill explain why they enjoy reading and how they've decided on their favourite books.

 

Many parents lack confidence in helping their child learn to read

Many parents lack confidence in helping their child learn to read

The players have also set literacy challenges for participating children, allowing them to unlock statistics, tips and videos from each footballer as they progress through the online programme.

Several of the Reading Stars themselves, including Frank Lampard, who is author of the Frankie's Magic Football children's books, have chosen books which they enjoy reading to their children.

Jim Sells, manager of the Reading Stars programme at the National Literacy Trust, said just 10 minutes a day reading with children can make a huge difference.

"Find out what they like, help them find suitable reading material, and spend 10 minutes a day reading with them," he advises.

"Just that short time will make a massive difference, and it will probably be some of the best minutes of their day."

And for slightly older children who need more motivation to read, the Reading Stars programme, hopefully combined with a bit of reading with mum or dad, could be exactly what's needed to spark their interest.

"Parents have a huge impact on their child's motivation and ability to read and it's great to see so many of our Reading Stars, who are also dads, share their love of reading and books," said Mr Sells.

The Reading Stars programme is aimed at children aged between seven and 15 years, but parents seeking help to improve the reading of younger children may gain inspiration from the new free online guide How To Help Your Child To Read: 30 Ways In 30 Days, published by the reading products company LeapFrog, and compiled by the educational expert and editor of The Good Schools Guide, Janette Wallis.

The tips include:

  • Set a daily time to read to your children and try to stick to it.
  • Hang a family message board in the kitchen. Leave simple notes for one another with plenty of illustrations.
  • Plan a family book club. Everyone reads the same book (or has it read to them). Then get together over popcorn to discuss the story.
  •  As children learn to read themselves, consider allowing them to stay up a bit later as a treat - so long as it's reading time.
  •  For more information about Premier League Reading Stars, click here. 

 For the 30 Ways In 30 Days guide, click here. 

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