by Kathleen Harper, Kindergarten Instructor
What is a confident reader?
Confident readers are just taking off on the route to becoming independent readers. They have learned the basics of reading and are now beginning to enjoy reading for pleasure.
Before becoming confident readers, children rely on phonic skills (letters) and blending them together, to decode or read words. Once they are confident readers, children will continue to learn to sound out more and more difficult words, but they will recognize lots of words without having to sound them out.
Confident readers are able to:
- Recognize lots of words, without having to sound them out
- Try to sound out more difficult words
- Read a story they have read before with some expression.
Confident readers are beginning to:
- Talk about what happens in the book
- Express opinions about the book, characters and the plot.
How can I support my child's reading?
Children at this confident reading stage still need to read aloud to practice their reading skills. And they still need you to read to them as often as possible.
Reading to your child
Bedtime stories are magical moments for a child.
- Sharing the joy of books, stories, poems and information. Your enthusiasm for books will rub off on your child.
- Sharing and creating a story world that you can enjoy together. This story world is a safe and reassuring place which develops a bond between the two of you.
- Demonstrating what good reading aloud sounds like.
Reading with your child
Try to make time in your busy day to sit and read with your child. This will show them that spending time reading is important.
- First and foremost, be enthusiastic about your child's attempts at reading!
- Encourage them to self-correct and make meaning as they read.
- Give them time to work out tricky words by trying to sound them out. However, if they are really stuck, tell them the word before they lose the meaning of the sentence.
- Ask them to express their opinions about what's happening in the book. Allow them to tell you if they don't like a book and why. Explain that it's OK not to like some books if they don't get pleasure out of them.
- Help them to make links between events that happen in books and their own experiences, or other books they have read.
How can I keep my child motivated?
All children are different: they learn at different rates and like different things. This includes confident readers. If you feel that your child is beginning to lose interest:
- Take your child to visit the local library. Libraries are fun and interesting places and have a wide variety of good books.
- Make sure your child sees you reading.
- Teach your child how to begin to choose books on any topic that they are interested in. If the books are too hard for your child to read, you can read them aloud.
- Find a younger child who your confident reader can read to.
- Help your child to start reading examples of writing from around them: TV guides, newspapers and magazines, toy catalogues. The Book People catalogue, internet websites, food packets, menus and so on.
- Talk to their teacher. The teacher will want to know if your child is losing interest and may be able to suggest things that will inspire your child.
What do I do if my child stops making progress?
Confident readers have times when they seem to be making progress and other times when they seem to be standing still. If you are anxious about your child's reading, ask their teacher for help.
- Try not to let your child see you are worried or they will become more anxious.
- Keep positive about what they are doing successfully. Offer lots of praise when they get things right,
- Suggest re-reading books they have already read and enjoyed. Challenge them to start using more expression when they re-read them.
- Talk about books, look carefully at pictures for details you might have missed last time round.
What if my child lacks confidence in reading?
All children go through stages where they lack confidence – the most important thing is that you don't lack confidence in them too! If this is a new thing, work with your child's teacher to sort out what might have shaken your child's confidence. If your child has never had much confidence, try some of these tips to develop their reading abilities.
Top tips to help your child increase their reading confidence:
- Look at the pictures and talk about what happens before you ask your child to read.
- Read aloud together. Let your child set the pace, and try to read the words at the same time. Hearing the book read confidently, even if it's by you, will increase your child's confidence.
- To help your child recognize the words on blank cards and play games like 'Snap" and "Lotto" with the words.
When and where?
Find time for reading
Your child is tired when they get home from school. They're not in the mood for reading. You have chores to do and a meal to prepare. Then, before you know it, it's bedtime and the evening is gone.
You may need to be creative, but here's a plan...
- 20 minutes is long enough for a confident reader to read aloud. Add 5 minutes to talk about the book. You're only looking for 15 minutes.
- On days when your child has swimming or club activities, don't push them to read as well. If you read together 4 – 5 times a week, you can afford the odd evening off.
- Organize a timetable so that you both know which days you a going to read. You are more likely to remember if it's something you do regularly.
Finding space for reading
Bed is a wonderful place for you to read to your child, but not so good for your child to read to you. Try to choose a room without too many people, TV's, computers, telephones and other distractions. If possible, make this the room in which you always read together.
The ideal place for reading together is somewhere:
- Quiet, so you can be together without interruptions for your reading session.
- Comfortable, so that your child feels secure and happy while the read.
- Big enough, so that you can sit side by side. If you are both looking at the text, your child will feel that you are both readers so you are doing something co-operatively.
- Familiar, so that your child doesn't feel under pressure.