Proven Ways to Improve Both You and Your Child’s Reading Skills

shutterstock_114642343Reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, by combining regular reading practice with some proven strategies, you and your children’s reading can be easily improved.

Did you know?

  • Children who read more often score better in test results.
  • Reading for pleasure is more important than how educated you are as a parent.

How to improve reading in children

It is quite common for children to experience difficulty in reading. Approximately 20 – 30% of children at school have reading difficulties, and this figure is consistent for both boys and girls.

Sadly, many children do not have access to books at all. One significant consequence of this – other than not being able to read – is the proven decrease in motivation and self-esteem, which can have long-term and even life-long consequences. It is critical to help children as early as possible by recognising a child’s difficulty with reading and pronunciation, and to assist with improving these skills. A side benefit of the work you do with your child to improve their reading skills is that your reading skills are likely to be stronger than before you started.

Children need to learn about reading and establish good reading habits before they go to school, so it’s critical that reading is a deliberate and fun focus in the home

Here are some ways to ensure that this happens:

  • Turn off the television and video games, and have a reading time each day outside of homework time. Reading should not be considered a chore by children but rather as a fun activity.
  • Have an abundance of books around the house, such as in the living room and their bedroom. By doing this you will encourage their impulse reading, because the books are in their natural environment.
  • Provide support to your child if you know they are having difficulty reading. One way is to have your child read out loud to you so you can help them with the words they find difficult.
  • Children tend to mimic their parents in a myriad of ways. If you read, your children are more likely to read as well.
  • Set family time for reading, such as stories at bedtime. This will not only improve your child’s reading skills, but will also give you and your kids some quality family time together.
  • Have a range of different types of reading materials and subject matters available to your kids. For example, your library could range from picture books to magazines to mystery novels. This way if your child has an interest in something new you are more likely to have a relevant book or magazine for them to explore.
  • Take your kids to the library and to children’s book launches at your local bookstore or writers festival.

How to improve reading in adults

A small number of adults are speed readers and have photographic memories, which makes reading for them a breeze. But the majority of adults don’t find reading this easy, and so tend to be unenthusiastic readers.

However, whether it’s for study, business, to relax, to learn or for pleasure, there are proven ways to improve adult reading abilities.

There are some known techniques to help you improve your reading skills when you already have a basic reading ability, which is different to children. The aim is to be more selective in what you read, and reduce any wasted reading time.

Start by picking out some newspapers, magazines or books that you think you might enjoy, and follow these tips.

  • Set a goal that you want to achieve in a timeframe. It could be as little as reading a chapter of a book a week or finishing a magazine article each day.
  • If you are finding a piece of text particularly difficult, see if you can find any pictures that may be helpful for you to understand what is written. After all, a picture tells a thousand words.
  • Make sure you read the headlines, subheadings and text in detail, and that you don’t skim read. When you’re first trying to improve your reading skills it’s important that you comprehend what you’re reading.
  • Sound out words you have difficulty with. If it helps, listen to audiobooks while you are reading to help you improve your reading skills.
  • Re-read the text if you feel that reading it through once was not enough to allow you to take in all of the details.
  • A great way to engage with the text is to write questions as you read. Then when the question is answered you’ll understand more of the text as a whole, which is encouraging.

Learning to speed read

The speed at which you read is not as important as your skills in reading. However when you are accomplished as a reader, then you may wish to try and improve your reading speed.

The natural habit of a person when reading is to focus on one word at a time. In speed reading, you want to train your eye to focus on groups of 4-5 words in a line at a time.

Here’s how:

  • Try to read each line in three groups. For example, a sentence would be broken up like this

The quick brown fox jumped – over the lazy dog contains – every letter in the alphabet

  • As you get faster at this, begin trying to break the sentence into two groups instead of three. For example,

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy – dog contains every letter in the alphabet

  • Hold your book a little further away than usual to help you see the lines better. This way your eye can follow the text uninterrupted, instead of constantly having to readjust the book/magazine.
  • Don’t review what you have read. It can be a habit to check what you’ve just read, and this can be difficult to break. Hold a piece of paper over what you have already read if this helps you stop re-reading text.