Shared Reading with Your Child – A Hack for All Parents

Supporting Parents Julie Christophers
Julie Christophers
Number Works 'n Words Mt Gravatt English competition

The most common question I am asked by parents of primary school-aged children is, “What can I do at home to help my child with their learning?”

When it comes to a child’s literacy development, the single most powerful tool for parents to understand, is the role they themselves play, in the shared reading experience.

When a child reads out loud to a parent who is listening, interacting and present in the moment, you would be surprised at just how many processes are working at the same time. Reading together is far more valuable than you may have realised and the best part for busy parents is, it takes next to no time to prepare and the only resource you need is a good book.

For younger children, learning to read begins with engaging conversations around pictures, turning pages and making up stories in their own words, identifying characters and recognising settings, taking turns and recalling events, making simple inferences and chatting about their own, perhaps similar, prior experiences.

As a child begins to learn the concepts of letters and sounds and words
and phrases, the text itself begins to offer clues and opportunities for discussion. There develops a conservation of text, whereby the sounds and words are read consistently every time and strategies for decoding and reading accuracy, along with greater word recognition and phrase fluency, become ever more important in the search for meaning.

As a child begins to master the skills of ‘learning to read’, the focus begins to shift to one of ‘reading to learn’. This is where all levels of comprehension develop, from the simplest, literal translation to the deepest analytical interpretation. It is important at every stage, but most critically at this point, that the child is exposed to a wide and rich range of text types.

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Reading in itself, is of huge benefit to every child, but it is in the opportunities for lively, fun and contemplative shared reading, that children will develop life-long skills that impact all aspects of their learning. The greatest hack for any parent wanting to help their child at home, is simply to enjoy 10-15 minutes every day, reading together.

The list of benefits is far reaching, but below are just some of the reasons why the shared reading experience is so effective.

 It’s fun!
 Offers regular ‘bonding’ time between parent and child
 Develops letter, sound and word recognition
 Extends vocabulary
 Improves general knowledge
 Lays the foundation for easy communication between child and parent
 Instills a love of reading and learning
 Supports improved sleep patterns
 Stimulates creativity and imagination
 Encourages debate and the development of personal views
 Improves the child’s writing in almost every way! This one is huge!
 Reduces stress
 Develops memory and focus