Eleni, our researcher, has asked our curriculum expert Emma Madden, Head Teacher of Fox Primary School and our literacy expert Professor Susan Neuman at NYU, for some reading tips for homeschool. Here is what they’ve had to say.
#1 Read as much as you can
Read as much as you can during this period. Some children can easily read for one hour every day! For children with a short attention span, break it into 15 or 30-minute slots. Do as much as you can and slowly try and build a habit. Research shows that reading an hour a day increases your child’s reading age and has numerous benefits:
- It develops reading comprehension, writing ability, vocabulary, grammar, and spelling. A love of reading is one of the biggest contributors to educational success
- It’s a window to other people’s experiences, to how those experiences relate to yours, and to the world in general. Reading makes you more knowledgeable and more empathetic!
- People who read often are calmer and happier because reading puts your brain in a pleasurable state similar to meditation and helps it find meaning and purpose.
#2 Listen to audiobooks as a family
You can put it on in the background while you work. Listening to books enables children to hear the rhythms of the text so that they can internalise the voice when they read to themselves. Research shows that listening to books is a particularly engaging experience, both cognitively and emotionally -- much more than watching a film. This may be because as a listener you have to co-create aspects of the narrated story using your imagination which makes the process a very active one.
#3 Read books at the right level.
Remember it is better for your child to read a book at a level they can read fluently. They should be making no more than 1 mistake every 10 words.
#4 Read aloud to your children every day for 15 minutes.
This can be a book of a harder level than they can read independently. Some people enjoy reading the newspaper together in times like these and discussing current events. Reading aloud to your child is one of the most crucial reading lessons you can provide. You may want to stop occasionally, at a key point to discuss something on the page but do this sparingly—reserve stopping for when it is necessary to clarify something, to avoid potential miscomprehension. To maximise this benefit, don’t interrupt your child too often. Stopping too frequently to ask questions interferes with reading. Reading a passage for a second time allows you to check understanding at both literal and inferential levels and to discuss themes and ideas.
#5 Host a virtual book party
Create an online book club with friends or grandparents.
Ask your children to pick a few friends they would like to read a book together with. After they read, set them up on Facetime, Zoom or WhatsApp to read the book to each other or talk to a group of friends about a book. Read how to host a virtual book party here.
For more information about these tips, check out the research below:
 Clark, C. & Rumbold, K. (2006) Reading for pleasure: A research overview. London: National Literacy Trust.
 Mar, R. (2011) The Neural Bases of Social Cognition and Story Comprehension. Annual Review of Psychology, 62: 103-134.
 Cremin, T. (2007). “Revisiting reading for pleasure: Delight, desire and diversity.” In: Goouch, Kathy and Lambirth, Andrew eds. Understanding Phonics and the Teaching of Reading: A Critical Perspective. Berkshire, UK: McGraw Hill, pp. 166–190.
 Richardson, D. C. etal. (2018). “Measuring Narrative Engagement: The Heart Tells the Story,” preprint (Neuroscience, June 20, 2018)