7 Useful Tips: How to Help Your Child With Reading

Every fifth child aged 10 years in Germany cannot read adequately. And the responsibility falls not just on the grammar schools – parents can do a lot to promote the development of their children early on. How can they do this? We’ve got 7 opportunities for you so that your child can discover a love of books and not have any problems later in school!

Reading Tip 1: Read aloud to them early

Learning to read can begin even as a baby! Not with lessons or active learning, of course – rather through reading aloud together. This is possible even with newbornes: make yourselves comfortable, grab a children’s book and read it aloud to your child.

This is how your child can get an early contact with books. Reading together is a special bonding time between the two of you, so your child will associate it positively with reading. This is important, because having fun while reading is an important factor in a child’s successful reading.

Start with 5 to 10 minutes of reading aloud to your child each day. As soon as your child is old enough and can sit longer, this time can be increased to 20 minutes per day. Make reading part of their daily routine!

Reading Tip 2: Ask questions

Reading isn’t much use when that which is being read can’t be understood. Therefore, you should also promote the development of your child’s reading comprehension – and ask questions while reading aloud. This expands your child’s vocabulary and encourages them to deal with the material being read.

You can even ask your baby questions! For example, you can ask them “Do you see the cat?” and point to the picture of the cat. When your child is a bit older, you can let them show you things in the book themselves.

As they grow older, you can ask more questions. Ask your child during and after the reading. Show your child the front and back covers of the book and ask what they think the book is about. Take a break while reading and ask them what they think will happen next. And when a character in the book feels a certain emotion, you can ask your child if they too know this feeling.

Reading Tip 3: Be a good example

Be a good example of reading yourself! Even when your child is fascinated by books at an early age, this fascination can quickly fade when Mum and Dad don’t read much themselves. At the end of the day, children need role models, and they gladly look toward their parents for such.

Therefore, your child should see you reading every day. Even when it’s only for a few minutes! You can read a newspaper, a novel, the Bible or a cookbook – it doesn’t matter! But show your child that even adults read every day.

This is also important: boys orient themselves toward their father, and girls orient themselves towards their mother. When both parents don’t read, the proper person in each relationship should take on the role of a good example.

Reading Tip 4: Learning the alphabet in everyday situations

Before you child can begin to read themselves, they first have to learn the alphabet, otherwise they’ll run into difficulties recognising and dealing with the letters and symbols. You can directly support your child’s learning of the alphabet.

For example, you can craft letters together. You can hang the alphabet in the children’s room or keep an eye out for letters while doing your daily routines (e.g. going for a walk). At the breakfast table, there are lots of different kinds of packaging for cheese, muesli, cereal, milk and other products with which to discover letters.

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Reading Tip 5: Learn with all the senses

Children need different sensory experiences for sustainable learning success. When learning to read, there are many possibilities. For example, you can let your child paint or craft letters. This improves your child’s vocabulary while simultaneously training their fine motor skills with cutting, folding or gluing.

Another option is to combine learning with movement. Action-packed games (like throwing balls at letters) are wonderful opportunities to make learning to read exciting. Rhymes and songs are also loved by most children. Find out how your child learns best, and devise your own suitable activities.

Reading Tip 6: Classify books

Starting at age 5, you can take the next step in learning to read. What does this involve? It involves classifying books into different genres. For children, there are usually only 5 different genres which are important:

  • Non-fiction books (real stories/facts about animals, places and people)
  • Fantasy (made-up stories that couldn’t happen in real life: magic, talking animals, etc.)
  • Realistic fiction (made-up stories that could happen in real life)
  • ABC books
  • Songbooks
In order to classify a book, children must summarise it in their heads and remember the details. They also have to recall other stories they’ve read, to compare those books with the book in question – and decide in which genre the book belongs.

This process only takes a matter of seconds, but brings many advantages. Your child will recapitulate the content of the book, puts the book in a larger context and improves their memory skills.

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Reading Tip 7: Be patient

We’ve saved the most important part for last: have patience with your child, and avoid putting pressure on them at all costs. Reading should be fun! As soon as your kid perceives reading to be forced or a burden, you won’t be any help to them. Instead, let them come to it at their own pace, and start with small reading steps. When your child has fun while doing it, you can build upon these steps.

More about the author

Daniel, Product Manager

at small foot since
2 Children, Boy (5 years), Girl (3 years)
Why do you like working for small foot?
Because we get to work with the best stuff on earth, and everyone on the team can bring in their own thoughts, ideas, and experiences to each product. A good product can only be made with this kind of diversity.

Why do you like working for small foot?
Because we get to work with the best stuff on earth, and everyone on the team can bring in their own thoughts, ideas, and experiences to each product. A good product can only be made with this kind of diversity.

What's something you particularly like about small foot toys?

We orient ourselves to the actual needs of children and parents - and that's all that matters. In addition, I appreciate the variety - small foot toys are not bound to a particular colour or shape.

Favourite small foot toy and reason why
I have many :-) , but my personal favourite is the Play Kitchen Tea Service (11214). My daughter loves it, and I have the opportunity to have a chat with my daughter in a teatime together about what she's experienced. It's not always a given that children tell you about their day. That's why I really appreciate this product.