The best and easiest way to help our children to progress in English is to encourage them to read. Reading on a regular basis expands a child's vocabulary; exposes them to new ways of thinking; improves their own writing skills; teaches them spellings; helps them understand punctuation and develops their comprehension abilities. All of these benefits come about through regular reading. Even though our children may think that they are just reading a book for pleasure, they are actually subconsciously learning!
Whilst reading independently has great benefits, there are things that we can do to massively improve the effectiveness of their time spent reading.
Listen to our children read out-loud. The act of reading out-loud forces us to think about the correct pronunciation of words; encourages to read with expression; improves our speaking skills and most importantly, gives us, as parents, the opportunity to question our children about what they are reading.
By asking questions, we are checking that our children understand what they are reading. We can ask literal questions to check that they are reading carefully. We can ask inferential questions that require good levels of understanding, language and explanation. We can also ask questions that rely on our children giving their opinion on issues or situations.
Some examples of literal questions:
Where does the story take place?
When did the story take place?
What did s/he/it look like?
Who was s/he/it?
Where did s/he/it live?
Who are the key characters in the book?
Where in the book would you find …?
Some examples of inferential questions:
When do you think this book was written?
What do you think will happen next?
Does the character like what is happening?
How will he/she respond if something happens?
Why do you think something happened?
Some examples of opinion questions:
Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do?
What do you think about this subject?
How do you feel about...
We can accelerate the rate that our children's vocabulary expands by encouraging them to read, research and understand unfamiliar words. How often do we come across a strange word that we don't understand and we just ignore it? If a child asks the meaning of every strange word or writes them down and researches them later, their vocabulary would expand hugely. Why not provide a note book for them to collect new words and then discuss them together?
Regular reading = good progress in English