Useful Tips For Hearing Your Child Read + Free Handy Prompt Cards - How to Grow a Bookworm
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Useful Tips For Hearing Your Child Read + Free Handy Prompt Cards

Useful Tips For Hearing Your Child Read

Hearing your child read can be a really wonderful experience with them showing you what they have learnt so far. It can also be incredibly frustrating for you both if they are struggling.  In both these cases it can be a really great idea to get actively involved with their reading and even read some parts together.  In this post I will talk you through some great ways that you can support your child’s reading and how to get involved in a fun and positive way.


Head to the bottom of the post to get your free reading prompt cards.


The most important strategy

The most important strategy when hearing your child read is the ‘wait’.  I find this sometimes nearly impossible to do sometimes but it can really help your child to build their confidence and also give you a clearer idea of what help might be needed. To do this when your child stumbles over a sound or appears stuck instead of offering up the sound or word or giving them advice just wait.  Keep quiet and give them the space to think about it.  I am always, without exception, amazed at the issues that children can fix for themselves when they are given this space.  It can also really make them feel that you trust them to know what they are doing.


7 Key Strategies

Once you’ve waited you may still need to offer support or teach them a strategy.  Here a few you can choose from:


Little and often

Introducing and teaching one or two relevant strategies at a time may take a little while but once your child has a range of ideas to choose from you will find that they need your help less and less.


“What are we going to work on tonight?  Shall we try ‘skipping’?  So what should you do if you find a word you are struggling with? Skip the word, read on to the end and see if it gives you a clue.”


Not all strategies will be relevant all the time but if you have a few up your sleeve it should help you prevent long struggles and frustration with a word.

What to do if they are losing interest

If you find that your child begins to lose interest while they are reading you can start by trying to minimise the risk of this before you even start. If at all possible read in a quiet environment with nothing nearby that might distract their attention. I know this isn’t always possible as when my eldest and I  read together we are often interrupted by my youngest being enthusiastic and very noisy about something or other.


If this becomes a regular thing try to be aware of the signs that they might be about to lose focus. Give them a small target to read to and try and finish on a positive note. Only reading or listening to one sentence happily will be so much more effective than dragging them unhappily through a whole page or even book.

Shared reading

This can be used if your child is struggling to read whole sentences or pages at a good pace and can be great fun. This is one of the things can really bring a bit of fun back to reading time particularly if your child is struggling.


If they really struggle over each word it can be really disheartening for them and make it hard for them to follow the story.  Depending or much they are struggling you could take it in turns to read each word, sentence, page or even chapter.


When it is your turn to read you can really use it as an opportunity to model some of the skills that they are using.  Read with expression and at a good reading pace.  You could also stop and sound out trickier words and get them to help you with it.


The main thing to remember with this one is that you can get involved as much as is necessary and that listening to you read their book can, in the right situation, be just as beneficial as reading it themselves.


Words or sounds that they haven’t been taught

You may find that a book your child is reading contains sounds that they haven’t yet been taught. Introduce them to the sound but you don’t need to teach it to them unless you want to. When they read a word with that sound say the sound and model how to say it in the word or let them try.

A little while ago my eldest daughter was reading to me and she came across the word ‘lane’.

ED: l-a-n-e     lan

She wasn’t satisfied so she tried again.

ED: l-a-n-e      lanneh

I was literally bursting to jump in at this point but I managed to stay quiet and let her keep going.

ED:l-a-n-e   lan

Now that she had given it a good go I began to get involved.

Me: Could you try changing any sounds?

ED: l-a-n-ee   lannee  no that’s still wrong.

I knew that the sound that  was after was ‘a-e’ and sounds like ‘ay’ but I also new that she hadn’t yet learnt it at school. I pointed at the sound and drew an imaginary line between the a and the e.

Me: This is a special sound where two letters that aren’t next to each other make one sound.  Together they say a-e(ay).  Can you try the word using that sound?

ED: l-ay-n  lane (looks pleased)

Me: Well done you did it!

During the rest of the book we found a few more of these sounds and talked about them.  The key is that I wasn’t worrying about teaching the sound or expecting her to work it out.  I introduced her to it but then allowed her to move on.  This is a good way to hep your child with sounds they haven’t learnt yet.  Give them a chance to work it out for themselves, then if they can’t, give them the sound and gently support them to apply it independently.


The reason for this is that to start with it’s good to get to grips with a few sounds at a time and gradually add to these as you go along.  If they are trying to take on more sounds than they are ready for it can make reading frustrating and give them the feeling that they can’t read the book.  If you just give them the sound but they do the reading themselves they can still see that they are progressing.

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  • Josie
    Posted at 10:53h, 10 November Reply

    My daughter hasn’t learnt a-e yet at school and I’ve been struggling to explain so this has been really useful thanks.

    • tomrussell
      Posted at 14:28h, 10 November Reply

      Thank you Josie, I’m so glad it was useful. I was actually thinking about doing a post in the future called something like. ‘What the hell is a split digraph?’

  • Helen
    Posted at 16:33h, 10 November Reply

    Great advice – reading with little ones is so important to grow their confidence and love of reading. You’re right, about the wait, I always want to jump in, but have got better at letting them sound it out.

  • Emma Maslin
    Posted at 20:19h, 10 November Reply

    Great advice -I’ve got one who lives to read and one who doesn’t!

  • Emma
    Posted at 09:49h, 19 November Reply

    Some brilliant tips here – thank you for sharing!

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