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The Importance of Home Support for Developing Reading Skills

Parents are the BEST Teachers for their Children

I work with many children (of all ages) to help them develop fluent reading skills, and during my very first class, I always spend time to discuss with the parents the critical importance of home support for learning reading. In most cases, the parents will nod and agree with what I tell them, and tell me that they will follow my simple recommendation of spending just 10 to 15 minutes each day working on reviewing and reinforcing the previous reading lessons with their kids. While it's easy to say you'll do something, in reality, what I find is that sometimes, parents are not providing enough home support.

I say this because with my experience, I can usually tell during my lessons which student's parents have been putting forth the effort at home to work with their children, and which parents have not. I've had very bright students where I had expected a quick paced reading achievement, but ended up falling a bit short of my expectations because the students did not get enough support at home - for doing their homework and reviewing lesson material. On the other hand, I've had other students advance at amazing speeds because of the amount of support they received at home from mom and dad. It's really amazing! What this has told me repeatedly is that putting all else aside, home support is absolutely critical.

Have Reasonable Expectations From Your Child's Teacher

I think a big issue related to children with reading difficulties is that parents often expect a little too much from their child's school teacher. You have to consider the fact that your child's teacher has to teach a whole wide variety of subjects to an entire class of students, and that it's not reasonable to expect the teacher to be an expert at teaching reading. After all, even studies have shown that:

"Many in-service teachers are not knowledgeable in the basic concepts of the English language. They do not know how to address the basic building blocks of language and reading." [1]

The model our local schools (Vancouver, Canada) uses, is to give a handful of words for the students to take home each week, and they're expected to master ("memorize" is a better description) those words. Well, I can tell you that this method of teaching is really no method at all. Students will not learn the mechanics of reading through this, and this is why there are so many children having reading problems.

Proactive and Reactive Parenting

Take a step back, and make an honest assessment of your parenting style. Are you a proactive parent where you tend to get ahead of the curve and tackle issues before they arise, or are you a reactive parent where you find yourself looking for solutions to problems after they arise?

It's not my place here to tell parents how to parent their children, but I'm merely bringing up this fact, because I often deal with these 2 types of parents when it comes to learning to read. I have proactive parents, and they generally have younger children between 3 to 5 years of age. These parents tend to seek me out and have a goal of having their children develop reading skills before entering school.

I also have reactive parents - and I do get many more of this type than proactive parents. Often times, many of these parents will have had the "dreaded" talk with their child's school teacher to discover that their child is far behind in reading. They bring their child to my reading classes, and I always have their child reading at grade level (up to grade 2) in 2-4 months. Have a look at a case study here.

Home Support for Reading - It Won't Take Much of Your Time

Parents will generally find it to their and their child's benefit if they begin literacy exposure at an early age. This does not necessarily mean having to teach your child how to read - you simply get your child used to books and reading, and develop some early print awareness.

When it comes to working through my reading program, I'm not kidding when I tell parents that all it takes is 10 to 15 minutes a day! Whether it's parents (globally) that purchase my reading program and use it to teach their children to read, or local parents from the community that bring their children to my classes, I tell them the exact same thing:

10 to 15 minutes a day working on our lessons is all it takes, and it's best broken down in to 2 to 3 shorter sessions.

Do you have 10 to 15 minutes a day to spare to impart one of the most important skills in life? It doesn't sound like a lot, and it's not, but you'd be surprised at how often I work with students' parents that aren't able to put forth the required amount of time. The more consistent a parent is at practicing and reviewing the reading lessons, the faster the child will develop their reading skills.

If a parent had only 70 minutes a week to spare, I'd much rather have that parent spent just 10 minutes everyday consistently working with their child, than doing 2 or 3 big 20-30 minute sessions that week. Consistency matters. Another way I can tell how consistently parents work with their child is by the pace of their reading fluency development. What I typically find is that students with parents that follow my advice and do 10 - 15 minutes a day consistently will achieve reading fluency at a much faster pace.

If you'd like to give your child a head start, or if you have a child behind in reading, please take a look at our reading program.

>> Click here to learn more about our Children Learning Reading program, and discover how and why it is so effective at teaching children to read.


1. J Learn Disabil. 2009 Sep-Oct;42(5):392-402. Epub 2009 Jun 19.
Why elementary teachers might be inadequately prepared to teach reading. Joshi RM, Binks E, Hougen M, Dahlgren ME, Ocker-Dean E, Smith DL.