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Reading at Home

Reading at homeHow can we help our children with reading at home?


I dreamt I stood in a studio,
And watched two sculptors there.
The clay they used was a young child’s mind,
And they fashioned it with care.

One was a teacher—the tools she used,
Were books, music, and art.
The other, a parent—working with a guiding hand,
And a gentle loving heart.

Day after day, the teacher toiled
With a touch that was deft and sure.
While the parent labored by her side,
And polished and smoothed it o’er.

And when at last, their task was done,
They were proud of what they had wrought.
For the things they had molded into the child,
Could neither be sold nor bought.

And each agreed they would have failed
If each had worked alone,
For behind the teacher stood the school,
And behind the parent, the home.

– Author Unknown

Our school believes strongly in the home-school collaboration to ensure the children develop in the best way possible. They often share a lot of very practical information to help parents encourage their children at home. One of the booklets they sent to us is on helping children with reading at home which I felt was very handy so I have shared it here…

Reading at Home – Tips for Helping Children

Place and Time

  • Select a place that is quiet and peaceful.
  • Choose a time when your child is not tired, hungry, or really keen to do something else so you can enjoy reading together.
Reading at home
Image Source: Pinterest – Lisa Chance

What should you read?

  • Choose something of interest to your child.
  • It should not be too difficult.

Be encouraging when reading at home

  • Accept your child’s efforts.
  • Avoid criticism, threats, and comparisons with other children.
  • Try to relax and stay calm. Stop the session if you feel yourself becoming frustrated and read to your child instead.

Praise Your Child

  • When your child reads well.
  • When your child corrects herself after making a mistake.
  • When your child reads a word correctly after you have provided help.
  • When your child reads easy books silently to himself (these should be books he can read without making mistakes).

How often should we be reading at home?

  • 4 to 5 times a week is ideal.
  • 10 to 15 minutes each time suits most children.

Providing Help When Reading at Home

When your child makes a mistake that doesn’t make sense

  1. Wait and let your child solve it if she can.
  2. Ask one or two questions about the story to help him think of the meaning.
  3. Keep the story going by telling your child the word if it is still incorrect.

When your child makes a mistake that does not really change the meaning of the sentence

  • Some children lose confidence if you correct every mistake they make so you will need to decide whether the mistake really matters, and whether your child will lose confidence if you try to help her correct it.
  • If you decide not to correct it, let your child continue reading without interruption.
  • If you decide to correct the mistake:
    • Ask your child to think about the way the words looks. For example, does the word begin the same way as other words he knows Are there any parts in the word that your child already knows?
    • Tell your child the word if she has not corrected it after two attempts.

When your child comes to an unknown words and says nothing

  1. Wait and let your child think about the story.
  2. Suggest that your child go back to the beginning of the sentence, or
  3. Ask your child to think of a word which begins the same way as the unknown word, and makes sense in the sentence.
  4. Tell your child the word if he still does not recognise it.

When your child is not interested in the story

  1. Read the first few pages to your child, and talk about the story together, or
  2. Help her find a story that is of more interest to her.

When the story is too long

  1. Take turns reading, alternating with your child so that you read every second page (or chapter), or
  2. Help your child find a shorter story.

Reading at homeQuestions to ask your child to help with Fiction books when reading at home

I particularly like this section because it helps children to think about the stories they read. If your child is an aspiring writer, like mine, it helps him learn to think about the impact of a story and how to improve his own stories.

For the emergent reader

  • Where does the story take place?
  • When did the story take place?
  • What did the character look like?
  • Where did the character live?
  • Who are the key characters in the book?
  • What happened in the story?
  • What kinds of people are there in the story?
  • Explain something that happened at a specific point in the story.

For the developing reader

  • If you were going to interview this character/author, which questions would you ask?
  • Which is your favourite part? Why?
  • Who would you like to meet most in the story? Why?
  • What do you think would happen next if the story carried on past the ending of the book?
  • Who was the storyteller? How do you know?
  • Predict what you think is going to happen next. Why do you think this?
  • Is this a place you could visit? Why/why not?
  • How is the main character feeling at the start/middle/end of the story? Why do they feel that way? Does this surprise you?

For the beginning reader

  • Were you surprised by the ending? Is it what you expected? Why/why not?
  • What is the main event of the story? Why do you think this?
  • How has the text been organised?
  • Why do you think authors use short sentences?
  • How did you think it would end/should end?
  • Has the author used an unusual layout in the text? If so, describe it and say why you think they did this?
  • Has the author used a variety of sentence structures?
  • Has the author put certain words in bold or italic? Why have they done this?

For the expanding reader

  • Why did the author choose this title?
  • Do you want to read the rest of the text? How does the writer encourage you to read the rest of the text?
  • Can you find some examples of effective description? What makes it effective?
  • Which part of the story best describes the setting?
  • Can you find examples of powerful adjectives? What do they tell you about a character or setting?
  • Can you find examples of powerful adverbs? What do they tell you about a character, their actions or the setting?
  • Can you find examples of powerful verbs? what do they tell you a bout a character, their actions or the setting?
  • Find an example of a word you don’t know the meaning of. Using the text around it, what do you think it means?

For the bridging reader

  • Can you think of another story that has a similar theme? For example, good over evil, weak over strong, wise over foolish?
  • Why did the author choose this setting?
  • What makes this a successful story? What evidence do you have to justify your opinion?
  • How could the story be improved or changed for the better?
  • What was the most exciting part of the story? Explain your answer as fully as you can.
  • What genre is this story? How do you know?
  • What was the least exciting part of the story? Explain your answer as fully as you can.
  • When the author writes in short sentences, what does this tell you?

For the fluent reader

  • Does you know another story which deals with the same issues? For example, social, cultural, moral issues?
  • Have you ever been in a similar situation to the character in the book? What happened?
  • How would you have felt in the same situation?
  • What would you have done differently to the character in a particular situation from the book?
  • How would you feel if you were treated in the same way as the main character?
  • Have you read any other stories that have similar characters to this one? If so, which story was it and what happened?
  • Do you think this book is trying to give the reader a message? If so, what is it?
Reading at home
Photo Credit: Pinterest – Andrea Knight

Questions to ask your child to help with Non-fiction books when reading at home

For the emergent reader

  • What is the text about? what is the title of the text? Who is the author of the text?
  • What kind of things would you expect to see in this book?
  • Can you find examples of different features of this text type?
  • Find something that interests you from the text. Explain why you chose that particular part.
  • Where would you look to find out what a technical word means?
  • What is on the cover of the book? What does this tell you about the content inside?’

For the developing reader

  • Which parts of the book could help you find the information you need?
  • When would you use the contents page in the book?
  • When would you use the index page in the book?
  • What sort of person do you think would use this book?
  • When might someone use this book? Why?
  • Can you suggest ideas for other sections or chapters to go into the book?
  • Do you think the author of the book is an “expert” about the topic of the book? Why/why not?

For the beginning reader

  • Can you find an example of a page you think has an interesting layout? Why did you choose it?
  • Why have some of the words been written in italics?
  • What are the subheadings for?
  • Why have some of the words been written in bold?
  • How does the layout help the reader
  • What is the purpose of the pictures?
  • Can you find examples of words which tell you the order of something?
  • What kind of text is this? How do you know?

For the expanding reader

  • Why does this book contain technical vocabulary?
  • Find an example of a technical word. Read the sentence it is in. What do you think it means based on how it has been used in the sentence?
  • Are there any examples of persuasive language?
  • Why do we need a glossary in a text?

For the bridging reader

  • Why has the writer written this text?
  • Have you found any of the illustrations, diagrams or pictures useful? Why/why not? Try to explain fully.
  • Why did the writer choose to present the information in the way they did?
  • How could the information be presented better?
  • What makes this text successful?
  • Are there any features that it hasn’t got? Why do you think it doesn’t have them?
  • Can you think another text that is similar to this one? What are the similarities and differences between them?

Useful websites for encouraging children with reading at home

Related articles for reading at home:

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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