There’s no magic strategy to ‘teach’ your child to read

Bit of a shock/horror title I know. But further to my last week’s post on reading when I was talking about the book ‘Rethinking Learning to Read’ there was something else I wanted to tell you. Something most people don’t know.

Create a relaxed approach to enjoying books

We don’t know because we’re led to believe the opposite. We’re led to believe that there is a specific strategy for teaching reading that professionals know but parents don’t.

The real truth is – brace yourself – there isn’t!

There is no one single magic approach to reading that will guarantee that your child will read.

This is what Harriet Pattison shows in her book. And I was talking to another academic about this recently, a professional who is engaged in teacher training, and he confirmed that there is no strategy that training teachers are taught in order to get kids reading. They are in exactly the same position as parents!

Okay, so teachers learn a bit about the psychology of learning (soon forgotten) and about various schemes, and graded readers and devices like phonics or whatever the latest fad is. But nothing is fool proof, will work for all, because everyone is different and responds differently. But those differences don’t have to be difficulties – only if you’re in school.

There are a multitude of activities that parents can encourage that will help their child to read; games for example, reading aloud to them, shared reading and stories, providing material for their reading, allowing them to use computers and computer games and similar, texting included, encouraging any reading material comics included, providing a reading happy climate, reading themselves, reading signs when out etc.

What is more important and something that parents can do easily, is provide a reading rich environment and encourage – without pressure – a relaxed approach to enjoying books and print. When home educating, it doesn’t matter when a child reads fluently – there are all sorts of ways to learn (films for example). It’s only in school, where learning is print based, that anxieties mount and ‘difficulties’ are created. Out of school, there doesn’t have to be a difficulty.

It’s important to acknowledge and encourage your child’s own personal relationship with reading, which means you might have to keep out of it sometimes! Something teachers can’t do. Perhaps the only ‘difficulty’ is keeping our anxieties under control.

Children are inquisitive about what we do, about stuff online, about phones and words and stories. Your encouragement of that interest will be what eventually leads them towards reading.

And that is something that all parents can do. No magic strategy involved!

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4 thoughts on “There’s no magic strategy to ‘teach’ your child to read

  1. This has really eased my mind. With a child who has been out of school for much of the past year with illness and then still isn’t able to attend full-time, it has been stressing me that she might have missed key reading lessons. But actually, she’s not very far behind her peers.
    What we have discovered over the past few months back in standard schooling is that it’s put her off trying to read certain books, because they’re not part of the typical ‘learning to read’ staged books. In that sense, she was better before when all words were just words and she was open to reading anything.

    • Thanks for your comment and I’m glad to hear it’s put your mind at rest a little. You’ve outlined a very real danger – of putting children off reading because of banal reading material! As you say; words are just words and being open to reading is far more important than the material they read! All the best. May your daughter thrive and succeed!

  2. Well how on earth can there be? Is the other way to look at it. It is like saying that there is only one way to bring up your children and that all you need to do is to be told what it is or read it in a book and everything will be magical. You can be guided in parenting and teaching children to read, but each person will have their individual way to do it. (I went on parenting courses just to get away from the kids!!!!)

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