As school resumes for the new year, the “home reader” routine for primary school children recommences. For many parents and children, reading these short texts can be the most agonising part of the nightly homework routine. Kids are tired and under pressure to get through their reading.
Every other day the teacher sends the child home with a home reader, a leveled book at the appropriate reading difficulty for your child - well that's the theory. My boys would consider themselves better than their actual ability and bring home level 24 books when they were actually reading at level 15!
This adds to an already frustrating and time consuming process for a busy parent who must maintain super human levels of patience whilst they coerce their child to read the book for their homework.
So what's the answer? Ryan Spencer advises parents to focus on real books in his article 'Ditch the home readers – real books are better for your child'. But are we parents meant to fight the school system and tell our children not to do their reading homework; no that's not the right message to teach your child either.
Recent research highlights that when children are provided with the opportunity to select their own reading material, they achieve greater levels of success. Letting your child make their own choice about what they want to read is the most powerful way to encourage them to be motivated and interested readers.
Don’t over-manage your child’s choice of books – this is about them and their reading, you want them to be excited and wanting to return. To achieve this though you need lots of readers for your child to choose from. The solution is a mix of real books (parents read to the children), home readers from the school & technology to give you access to a world of books.
But how do we offer a wide choice of books? We parents happily buy books the kids enjoy and will read often, but home readers do not meet that criteria. They're read once & forgotten, yet cost $5-$9 each!
How do we use Chatty Kidz to help a child learn to read?
1) Give you child more choice
We have an extensive library of online books available on a cheap monthly subscription. Encourage them to select books at an appropriate level of difficulty, we have lots of books to choose from at each level and its a growing library.
NOTE: this does not stop you visiting the local library, book store or collecting a library of books in your child's bedroom. We aim to add to these existing solutions
2) Use our assessment tool
If you don't know what level your child is reading at today, then test them using our assessment tool Its a simple 10 minute word test that will tell you an approximate reading level for your child.
Once you know a reading level you can guide them to select books from the appropriate range of titles available. This will reduce their frustration and make their reading more fun.
3) Have fun when reading - don't teach the book
Most importantly, make reading together fun and enjoyable for your child.
- Use funny voices or take turns reading
- Involve other family members (i.e. the grandparents) & let your child show off their latest reading skills
- Read books using computers or tablets, kids love technology and are desperate to use it. Encourage them to use technology for good (i.e. reading) & not evil (i.e. games). Their future is filled with technology & we parents must teach them how to use it productively
- Help distant family & friends develop stronger loving bonds with the kids by reading books together during a video call. My mum in the UK read with my kids twice a week. Its a fantastic way to get a bit of help at home (Nana keeps the kids entertained whilst I cook dinner) & to encourage the kids to practice their reading more.
- Encourage the kids to create their own books, load them into Chatty Kidz an read them to the grandparents during a video call. My kids draw comics, take photos of the pages & publish their own books on Chatty Kidz to read to their grandfather.
Committing to a better reading life with your child does take time; to choose great books and to experience them together but the result is a lifetime of reading pleasure.