10 Back‑to‑School Reading Tips for Parents
Before the back‑to‑school period, it's pretty common for young kids to fall into the notorious holiday reading slide.
The term “slide” refers to children dropping in their reading ability following a lack of reading over the school holidays. Teachers report that many students return to school with a lower reading level and interest in books than when they left.
Parents can do a lot to help their children ease back into the school‑day routine. Helping them maintain their reading ability (or at least catch up before back‑to‑school) is one of the most important things you can do to set up your child for a successful school year.
Here are ten back‑to‑school reading activities you can start doing right now:
1. Get back into a routine early
The sudden switch from holiday mode to school mode can be stressful for everyone in the household, so it's always best to start as early as possible. If you had a regular reading time with your child in the afternoons or evenings, try to ease back into it as early as you can.
2. Give your child a special reading spot
After endless distractions over the break, it's a good idea to make a special reading spot in the house which doubles up as a distraction‑free zone. Make sure your child's reading spot is quiet, comfortable, and within close range of a good selection of reading material.
3. Surround your child with books
Studies show that children who are constantly surrounded by books and reading material perform better in school than their peers who don't. Try to make sure there is age‑appropriate reading material around the house, on their devices, in the car and on‑hand anytime your child has to wait, such as at the doctor's office.
4. Restrict television and video games
It can be hard for the humble book to compete with the bright lights and loud sounds of the television. Ease into having a set television or video game schedule and try to encourage reading time as a leisurely activity (hint: let your child watch you unwind with a good book – you're their best role model!)
5. Be a good reading partner
It's much more fun to read when you're not forced to do it and don't feel embarrassed about making mistakes. Take turns reading with your child and be patient and encouraging when they come across a word they don't know. Make reading time a fun time to relax, unwind and bond after a long day.
6. Re‑read difficult sentences
When your child has sounded out a difficult word, have them re‑read the whole sentence one more time “with feeling”. Often children are too busy figuring out a word that they lose the meaning of what they've just read. Beginner readers will often guess wildly at a word based on its first letter.
7. Create a book together
Reignite your child's enthusiasm for books and reading by creating your own homemade books. This fun activity helps children increase their concentration span and strengthen their reading and writing skills to ease them back into the swing of things at school.
8. Find everyday opportunities to read
You can't overestimate the power of reading everyday items with your child, especially for beginner readers. Read aloud anything with words and encourage your child to see reading as a way of discovering the world. Read road signs, billboards, menus and cereal boxes – anything with words on it!
9. Restock your library
Whether they're the hardcovers on your bookshelf or the tap‑and‑swipe e‑books on your device, you can inspire your child to get back into the reading habit with a fresh collection of new titles. Let them choose their own books and create their own personal collection to get them excited about diving back in. Need help choosing the right books? ABC Reading Eggs can help with over 3000 children's e‑books sorted by reading age and Lexile level. Create a free account online here.
10. Choose books that are at the right level
If your child has taken a long break from reading, you can help them pick it up again and avoid any discouragement by choosing a book that's not too challenging or too boring for them. Use the Five Finger Rule to quickly and easily determine if a book is suitable for your child's reading level.