The challenges of #backtoschool reading – a parental survival guide

 With young children up and down the UK back to school this week the focus returns once again to the learning process and the importance of literacy. With the reading requirements from school already mounting up, many parents are left wondering how they are going to find time to pack all this extra-curricular commitment into each evening alongside other facets of family life. 

Never fear, help is at hand. The team at Reading Together have put together some handy tips and empowering statistics to help you and your children get into, and stay in, the reading mood: 

1.    Make time, and make it the same time (where possible).

Kids (and adults) thrive off routine. Set a time to read each evening and do everything possible to stick to it.  This can be incredibly difficult so if you can’t put an exact time to it, at least schedule it in as an event, for example ‘we will brush your teeth, then read, and then it’s bedtime.’ 

Allocating specific reading time will highlight the importance of the activity to both the parent and the child rather than it being something we should do, but just don’t have the time for. Try skipping the TV programme rather than the reading. Give your books the profile they deserve.

2.    Stress the importance of reading. 

In our first blog we highlighted just how beneficial good literacy skills are in determining later-life outcomes. If you or your children aren’t aware of just how important learning to read is then perhaps revisiting some of those key statistics from the National Literacy Trust will help. You can read that blog article here.

3.    Understand how important you are.

‘Parental involvement in their child’s literacy practices positively affects children’s academic performance and is a more powerful force for academic success than other family background variables, such as social class, family size and level of parental education.’

Source: McCoy, E, Cole, J. (2011). A Snapshot of Local Support for Literacy: 2010 survey. London: National Literacy Trust.

 That’s right – your child is more likely to achieve more if you read with them, regardless of all other social and economic factors. Doesn’t that make you want to sit down and read with them more often? It gets better:

‘The earlier parents become involved in their children’s literacy practices, the more profound the results and the longer-lasting the effects. Children learn long before they enter formal education.’

If you need a boost as to how important you are, have that paper to hand! 

4.    Make it fun and family orientated.

Make book time an excuse to spend some quality, uninterrupted time together. Leave the mobile phone in the kitchen and turn the TV off. Be there with your child and their/your book. Read in bed and get all cuddled up. Every family is different; just explore different options until you find something that works for you. And don’t give up!

Battling a lack of enthusiasm? Let them choose a book that interests them as a reward or if they are struggling with school-prescribed literature. Try alternating pages, so that you read one page before they read another to reduce the burden.  Use silly voices and really get into the books. Ask each other questions about the story and challenge them to predict what might happen next. Comprehension is as important a skill as actually reading.

Finally make sure you read some of the books that you loved as a child – your children will engage with your enthusiasm. It’s infectious. 

5.    Understand how to help.

Young children can find reading challenging and frustrating, especially in early years, and it can often be easier to avoid that battle if you aren’t entirely sure how to help. Understanding your phonics practices, as well as tools and tips on how to support reading at home can be really helpful in empowering you as a parent to get involved with your child’s reading, making you feel like you are impacting on their progress. There are large amounts of information available for free online, as well as through the Reading Together smartphone app. 

6.    Get books on show. 

An alarming number of children grow up in homes where there are no books, according to reports, which can have an alarming effect on their progress and future attainment. Make sure there are books in your house, and let your child see you reading.

Why not go to the local library, and while you are there get yourself one and attempt to discover a love of the written word again. Then you can all be Reading Together!


If you have any other great ideas to highlight literacy in the home, why not tweet us @RTplatformUK

The Importance of Literacy: Five Key Statistics

The Importance of Literacy: Five Key Statistics

It probably comes as no surprise that we are extremely passionate about reading here. In our opinion it is the single most important journey that our young people embark on in school. Here we pick out our top five statistics that highlight just how immense an impact reading and writing ability has on the future of our young people.