Top tips for helping your children practise their reading at home

The level of difficulty in the Reading section of the Key Stage 2 curriculum has increased significantly over the past five years. While schools are closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, here are some top tips to support your children in improving their reading skills:

  1. Practice makes perfect: In an ideal world, all year 6 children will love reading and spend some time each evening reading their favourite novel. However, the reality is sometimes quite different. Try to encourage your children to read anything – newspapers; magazines; manuals; web articles and of course books. Reading the opening chapter of a book (that you already have at home/from the library) and then discussing whether you want to read on or not is a great way for a child to articulate their opinion about an author’s style; ability to create characters and tension; how action is created and sustained and of course identifying the mood or tone of the chapter.

  2. Stamina and fluency: Most year 6 children are fluent readers and can read independently. But you might want to investigate if they are reading or really reading. When a child can read independently, this sometimes disguises that they are reading fluently. However, they may not always be reading for meaning, particularly if they have chosen a challenging text. Sometimes asking questions about the text can be difficult for the parent or adult who is listening to the child reading. After listening to your child reading a section of text or after reading a section of text with your child, pose the question: ‘What is the gist of what you have just read?’ and ascertain if your child can summarise the key points. What you deem to be the gist may differ from your children so ask them to justify their choices.

  3. Language choices: Poetry and song lyrics are the perfect vehicle to explore the author’s choice of language. When children read either poetry or song lyrics, they think they are reading less, when in actual fact they are reading more. Choose a song that your child enjoys and read the lyrics together. When children read song lyrics they sometimes ‘read’ something different to when they have simply listened to the song. Ask your child what they think the song could be about – with many songs there is an instinctive impression and then children begin to look deeper and are able to discuss the language choices made by the songwriter. After discussions, both you and your child can explore if other songs have a similar theme/impact in a similar way on their listeners.

Above all, it is really important that the process and status of reading itself is valued in the family home. If children see adults reading at home, they are more likely to read too. Asking children to choose a new book from a shop or online can also be something that impacts on developing a positive view of reading. Sharing reviews that other children have left when deciding to buy a book is a great way to encourage your own children to read too.
Reading really is good for everyone!
Browse our Achieve Reading SATs Revision resources and order online here.
Madeleine Barnes is an experienced primary school teacher and senior leader who is currently a full-time English Advisor. She offers bespoke training to support schools locally, nationally and internationally. Madeleine still regularly teaches in the classroom and includes live-teaching sessions in most of her training. Madeleine is an established educational author, writer, blogger and series editor for a range of educational publishers (including our Achieve Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation SATs Revision series). She is a DfE QA proofer for grammar and reading.


Achieve, Achieve Key Stage 1, books, English and Literacy, English and Writing, homework, key stage 2, learning, Parents, Reading

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