Patience not panic required – when kids learn to read by sight

  So, how has it been going? Here’s hoping that your kids are settled back in school and enjoying the new term.  Mine have now reached Yr 4 and Yr 1, and it feels like things have really stepped up.  Fitting in homework, spellings, after-school clubs and reading x 2 can sometimes feel like a bit of squeeze.  Luckily my kids are pretty laid-back and we can get away with doing stuff on the hoof, but the reading bit is something that I am still pretty stern about.

I don’t know about you, but both my kids hit a bit of a stumbling book with their reading in Yr1, so this blog is about the need for (even more) patience.  From experience, and again I could be completely wrong, the reason for it is down to a huge leap in development and understanding, and the stumble is actually a good thing.  Throughout early years and reception it is all about phonetics, breaking down words and sounding them out.  Well, once they get to grips with this, then all that is old school – and they want to move on!!  This period, when it seems as though they are going backwards, is them actually getting to grips with ‘reading.’  Not sounding out words, but having a go at sight reading what is in front on them, just like we do as adults.

The upside is that they are now on their way to becoming super confident readers, the downside is that it takes heaps of patience from you.  They might not want to read anymore, as they are finding it tough.  It’s hard on their little brains to make the words make sense, so the biggest bit of advice I can give you is…go easy.  if you are used to them flying through their school books, but can now only manage a page or two, then as frustrating as it seems don’t worry, it’s OK.  It will come back.  Just do your best not to make reading a stressful time, keep it as something fun to do and then when they are ready it’ll fall into place.  Here’s some other tips that might be useful:

1 – I don’t think there is any harm in you reading the book to them first, so that it doesn’t feel like such a mountain to climb.  Often, their books will have more words then before, so it be a bit overwhelming.  If you go first they will feel more confident to give it a go.

2 – Play a game, make it fun.  You could read alternate words, every other sentence, five words at a go, whatever makes them smile and feel relaxed.  You also pick a letter out and let them only read the word starting with that letter.  Just make it enjoyable.

3 – This is a little technique used by the reading charity Beanstalk.  Let them read, but when they’ve had enough, they can tap on the page a couple of times, as a sign that they want you to take over.  It’s not something I’ve tried but it is designed to give them a bit of control over the reading session.

4- Don’t try and get them to read when they are tired, hungry etc.  Keep it a nice thing to do together.

5 – Shhh…don’t tell anyone, but if their school book is just not interesting them, just talk through it with them and hope the next one is better.  It is not a test, don’t force them if they are really not interested.  They can’t be expected to be enthralled by everything!

  • As a bit of a disclaimer, if you think your child is really struggling, as in you think there is something stopping them from reading, then don’t hesitate to talk to your teacher.  They will be really pleased that you are on it and will try and help.
  • Also, kids learn to read at different speeds!!!  Don’t ever be worried if you child seems to be not getting as fast as others. It is a skill that falls into place at different times.  Just please keep and fun and make it something that our child doesn’t become scared off.

Let me know how it goes!





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