Improving your child’s oral reading skills

In this article, we share some simple strategies designed to improve your child’s oral reading skills.

First, ask your child to read a few pages silently before reading them aloud to you. This will both:

  • allow him/her to become more familiar with the text;
  • help reduce performance anxiety.

At the end of each passage, it’s a good idea to have your child ask YOU questions  about the story, rather than the other way around. This will ensure that he/she is reading for meaning, not just decoding words.

Tip: Make sure you throw in a few incorrect answers. Your child will love correcting you and it’s also a great way to keep him/her on the ball.

When reading, if your child gets a word wrong but is close with his/her guess, don’t interrupt. For example, “Jack and Jill went up the mountain” is fine, as the meaning of the passage isn’t altered.

If your child doesn’t know a word, don’t get him/her to ‘sound it out’. This won’t be helpful long term as there are too many inconsistencies in phonics. Instead, put your finger over the word and read around it. Ask your child to tell you what word would best fit in the space. This encourages the use of contextual cues (analysing the meaning of the passage).

It is also a great idea to read along with your child. That is, you read out aloud, leading the way with fluency, tone etc. You will find that your child will read with you about half a second behind. This gives him/her a very good, practical model. You should aim to do this for about 10 minutes at a time. After some practice reading together, ask your child to reread the passage to you alone. The focus here is on fluent reading.

Remember: Kids respond very positively when they see themselves improving over a fairly short time frame. When you notice effort and improvement, offer a suitable (small) reward, e.g. a sticker.


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