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Supporting Your Child's Reading

Written by Kate Brennan at The Reading Doctor, Belper

Kate is a qualified teacher and owner of The Reading Doctor, Belper, a unique tutoring service that supports struggling readers and writers in unlocking their potential.

“2024 is the year I help my child get better at reading!”

If you only make one reading resolution this year, make it this one.


As a Mum, teacher and tutor, I know helping children at home with their reading can be a tricky task. A tightrope-walk of bad moods, negotiations, tantrums and complaints (and that’s just the parents!).

That’s why I have one New Year resolution for you to try. And I promise, if you stick with this, it will help your child immeasurably, not only with their reading skills, but with their independence and their self-confidence too.

All you have to do is ‘prompt, don’t tell’.

As adults, it is quite hard to stop ourselves doing things for our children or telling them the answers without giving them a chance to try it for themselves. As with anything in life, children need to build up a bank of strategies to use when they are trying anything independently. If you always tie your child’s shoelaces because it’s quicker and you haven’t got time to wait, then your child will never learn to tie their shoelaces. It’s the same with reading.

When you are listening to your child read, try the following:

1.     If your child is reading and gets stuck on a word, count to three before saying anything.

2.     Next, prompt your child to use an appropriate strategy:

“How can we work out this word?”

“Let’s look at the first sound, what does it start with?”

“What about the picture? Does that help you?”

“Why don’t you read the rest of the sentence and see if that helps you work it out?”

3.     If your child has a try but gets it wrong, don’t jump in immediately. Allow them to read to the end of the sentence first. Do they go back and self-correct the mistake? If not, ask them, “Did that make sense? Should we try that again?”

You may eventually need to tell your child the word if it is clear they aren’t going to work it out for themselves. That is fine. Model how to work it out. If it is a decodable word (a word you can sound-out using phonics) demonstrate blending the word together yourself.

Sometimes, if it is a tricky word that cannot be decoded, like ‘said’ or ‘what’, there is nothing wrong with saying: “Isn’t English silly! No wonder it’s so difficult to learn to read!”

Remember, once you have worked out the word, get your child to re-read the sentence again, so the meaning of the sentence is not lost. And don’t forget to praise them for their attempts: “Well done for trying to work that word out on your own!”

If you try this technique regularly, it will make the world of difference to your child’s approach to reading.


Of course, If you feel you need extra support, and are looking for a proven reading and writing intervention programme, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I can pinpoint why your child might be experiencing difficulties and can offer a complete reading assessment using carefully levelled benchmarking. I can then make ‘next step’ recommendations, and deliver lessons tailored precisely to the learning needs of your child.

07787 881704



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