A report released last month by the Department for Education, identified that 74% of year 1 pupils met the expected standard of phonic decoding in 2014, compared with 69% in 2013 and 58% in 2012.
Berkshire charity ABC to Read believe that this increase is in large part due to the increased attention that has been given to focused reading with this age group.
The charity is passionate about enabling young children to read, using volunteer mentors in schools that work with children one-to-one and parent workshops to teach parents how to help their children to develop this essential life skill.
Marcia Rowlinson, Chief Operating and Development Officer for ABC to Read, recommends integrating reading into every aspect of daily life in order to nurture a joy of reading from a young age:
“One of the most important things a parent can do is to talk and listen to their child by involving them in everyday activities; from chatting whilst changing a nappy to discussing what you are buying at the supermarket, there are packets to find, signs to read and choices to be made. When out walking, look at the trees, talk about the colours of the leaves and pick out letters in the road signs, especially if they are letters in your child’s name. Talk during daily activities, when eating, picking up toys, getting dressed and so on.
“Rhyming is considered one of the best ways to introduce babies and toddlers to the wonder of stories. It helps children learn about word families and to associate common sounds with common spellings. Rhymers find it easier to learn to read, so sing rhymes at home and in the car; when you see a cat, make a list of words that rhyme with cat and have rhyming books around to read together.
“Children need to have many opportunities to experience the printed word and to handle books. To give them as much exposure as possible, start to read to them from the time they are babies – bath and soft books are excellent for this as they can also be chewed! Have an alphabet poster in the house, have your child’s name on their bedroom door and label their drawings – they may have drawn a house so write house on it and pop it on the fridge.
“You can also let your child see you write a shopping or to do list and encourage them to make their own. You can show them messages on your phone and there are lots of things that you can read together on the computer screen. Let your child see you read newspapers and magazines and you can even point out pictures and talk about them. Having a scrapbook around allows your child to make their own book by choosing pictures, labelling them and then reading them.
“No matter what age your child is, your praise and encouragement will make them feel good about reading and will boost their self esteem and confidence. Encouragement is praising for effort and not just for achievement. Praise and encouragement will help your child listen better, try harder and make guesses, as they will not be afraid to make mistakes. They will hopefully see reading as enjoyable and want to do more.
“The most important path to reading is still of course reading itself. Visit the library so they can choose their own books and make reading a relaxed and comfortable experience. A few minutes a day reading to or with your child will make such a difference to their learning to read experience.”
ABC to Read is always looking for new schools to join its scheme and new volunteers to be trained as one-to-one mentors. For more information please visit www.abctoread.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org