How to help children with reading after months off school

A leading reading charity is urging Kent parents not to put their children under too much pressure if they have slipped behind with their reading during lockdown.

It is feared many pupils may not be at the expected level as they return to school following months off during the pandemic.

Coram Beanstalk are urging parents not to put pressure on their children when it comes to catching up with reading. Picture: Martin Apps
Coram Beanstalk are urging parents not to put pressure on their children when it comes to catching up with reading. Picture: Martin Apps

But, rather than making reading seem like a chore, mums and dads are being encouraged this International Literacy Day to help their little ones rediscover the joy of books.

Gill Worrall, a resources developer at Coram Beanstalk, said: "Notoriously, over the six week holiday something called the summer slide happens where children's reading progress slips backwards.

"So for children who have been out of school for coming up to six months, the slip backwards could be really significant.

"It's particularly concerning for those children who are transitioning up into year 7 and leaving primary school, where the child is expected to be able to read and there isn't a great deal of provision for catching you up."

According to a survey of 2,000 parents by Explore Learning, 75% saw their child become academically worse off through the summer and recent studies suggest this can be a loss of a month's learning or more.

Gill Worrall from Coram Beanstalk has advice from parents who are worried about their children's reading skills after lockdown

Though lockdown has made it more difficult, the charity has been supporting children who are behind on their reading through the pandemic and volunteers are starting to go back into schools across the county.

Mrs Worrall added: "The biggest thing for parents is to take the pressure off . Don't involve making them do phonics and de-coding. Parents might be panicking that their children's reading has slipped backward, but by adding pressure onto the children, it just makes children shut down.

"Hearing the word 'reading' as a child of primary age, they don't think of enjoying a lovely story or finding out something new. They think, 'this is going to be really hard work for me, therefore I don't want to do it.'"

Parents are being encouraged to read to children
Parents are being encouraged to read to children

Experts say that reading to a child can have huge benefits for their learning as they're allowed to absorb what is going on in the story without having to work hard de-coding the words.

This positive experience can motivate them to read for themselves and find joy in books.

Coram Beanstalk assists children with their reading schools by providing additional support in schools
Coram Beanstalk assists children with their reading schools by providing additional support in schools

Even if a parent thinks a child is too old to be read to, it can greatly help their literacy as reading levels do not catch up to listening levels until a child is 13-years-old.

The resources developer added: "There's no better thing for a child than to share a book. It makes them feel safe and secure and close to you, and also helping them with their reading skills, even if they don't read a single word."

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