How to Raise Confident Readers
Hearing your child sound out those first words from a book is an exciting moment. But maintaining your child’s sense of wonder at reading can be tricky! Here are 10 ways to nurture their confidence and keep them interested in reading as they grow:
Read aloud, lots
Help your kids foster a love of reading from a young age by introducing them to books as early as possible. Even a newborn can enjoy the sound of your voice as you read to them! When being read to is a normal part of your child’s daily life, they’re more likely to want to pick up and explore books for themselves.
Role model a love of books
In the same way, another simple way to raise confident readers is to emphasise how enjoyable reading can be by doing it yourself. Whether it’s getting stuck in novel or reading non-fiction books, a powerful way to grow an affinity with reading in our children is to role-model it to them.
Lay out invitations to read
As children begin to read their first letters and words, you’ll probably be excited to encourage them as often as possible. To make the most of their new fascination, present more opportunities but let them take the lead. You might leave a magazine in their bedroom, put a basket of books on the kitchen table or take a trip to the library (restrictions allowing!) so they can pick something new to look at themselves.
Make reading fun
Another simple way to encourage a love of reading (and enjoyment / confidence come hand-in-hand!) is to make the act of reading more fun. There are lots of ways you can do this at any age – from playing active phonic games with flashcards to making a cosy reading den with fairy lights.
Other ideas include:
- Having tea and cake while reading poetry
- Lining up an audience of cuddly toys to read to
- Taking books with you on a picnic
- Changing words while reading to your kids to make them laugh
- Having your child read to you while you act out the story to them
As a parent or caregiver, the best thing we can do for our kids as they read is to stay patient with them as they learn. Self-confidence is easily knocked if a child senses frustration or disappointment in their perceived lack of progress… so keep calm, keep listening and keep praising their efforts.
Spot reading opportunities in the everyday
Don’t forget opportunities to read are all around us, so there’s no need to panic if your child isn’t fussed with reading story books yet. Instead look for other ways they can practice reading without noticing it, like putting subtitles on the TV or playing video or board games which require reading.
You can also chat together on your everyday trips and see what signs / wording they can spot and read all around them.
Get support early
Every child is different, with some picking up reading skills a lot faster than others. This is totally normal! If you do sense your child is struggling more than expected for their age, the sooner you can get the right support for them the better. Dyslexia is a common cause of reading difficulties, causing reading to be an often stressful and tiring process for both kids and adults. Being aware of any challenges will reduce unnecessary distress. You can find the signs of dyslexia here.
Try different genres
We all have different tastes when it comes to reading, and children are the same. If your child doesn’t get excited about exploring the books provided by school, try different types of writing. You may find they’re more engaged with rhymes, poems, fun fact books, reading apps or magazines. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to what your child should be reading to boost their skills.
Encourage storytelling through play
Play is such an important tool for our children and helping them become confident readers is no exception. Reading aloud requires an ability to express different emotions and voices, which children can experiment with freely through play. Plus, the better your child understands the ups, downs, and twists of storytelling, the more confident they’ll become following a new story they read.
Some of the ways your child can boost their storytelling skills, include:
- Imaginative play / role play
- Small world play with animals, dolls, character figures
- Drawing and mark making
- Chatting to family and friends
- Making up rhymes and songs
- Watching fictional TV shows & films
Trust the process
It’s easy to worry if your child is slow to progress through their reading schemes or hasn’t yet mastered more than a monotonous tone… but confidence best comes from being allowed kids to make mistakes without negative feedback. Try to trust that given the time, opportunity, and right support, they will improve their reading skills as they grow and find enjoyment in reading on their own terms.
I hope these ideas help you see them go from strength to strength!
Head to the Print Play Learn blog to find more playful learning ideas and joyful resources.