Practical Tips for Supporting Reading at Home

boy reading at home

Following the announcement in Guernsey of the discontinuation of States of Guernsey funding to the Dyslexia Day Centre, many parents of children who have additional English and literacy needs, including dyslexia, are looking for more ways that they can support their child’s learning.

The consolidation of support promised by the States of Guernsey Department for Education, Sports and Culture is undoubtedly a good move. Ultimately, it will enable more children to more regularly access highly trained teachers and English tutors in Guernsey. It is anticipated that schools, teachers, and learners will have a much more joined up approach, utilising expert teachers and English tutors already in place within schools.

Of course, many families opt to work with our English tutors here at Tutoring Heroes Guernsey to boost their child’s opportunities, whether their child has a recognised additional literacy need or not. If you have concerns regarding your child’s English skills, reading or writing development, speaking to their teacher or English tutor soon after you become concerned is important, even if your child is learning in a one-to-one tutoring environment. As parents see their children in a number of different environments and situations, it is not uncommon for difficulties which may be naturally catered for in a classroom or tutoring environment to become more prevalent.

All reading is valid

There’s a whole wealth of genres and applications for reading available both on and offline. Often, children with additional literacy needs will take some time before they settle on a genre or format which suits them best, and finding what they enjoy can be a frustrating process, especially if they are already finding reading hard. As parents, teachers and English tutors, we can provide access to as many different text types as possible, to engage and gently challenge children.

Here are some great tips for ALL learners you can use at home to support and encourage a range of reading skills at home !

Having the subtitles on while watching a favourite TV show or film gives the opportunity for children to follow along, and see the words in real time. Also, children love it when there are errors in subtitles and spotting them – a really good way of having some fun proofreading as well!

Thanks to the success of online services such as Audible and BorrowBox, almost any good book has an accompanying audio version. The uses of audio books are many, but they are particularly useful for students who may be studying longer, more complex texts at a higher level. Being able to listen to the piece performed by an actor whilst reading along in a paper copy can help readers understand the novel in a new way, and will make the process of reading the text much more accessible. Make sure that you opt for an unabridged version though, especially if you are preparing for GCSE exams.

Tutoring Heroes Guernsey English tutor recommendation…
Members of Guernsey’s Guille Alles Library can access thousands of audio books
and physical books both online and in the library for free. And it’s even free
to become a library member too!

Graphic Novels
Graphic Novels are one of the fastest growing areas of new writing, and although this genre has a long history globally, the availability and quality of the books available is better than ever. Once students enter the Secondary phase of their education, they will often spend a great deal of time looking at large blocks of text. Graphic novels are a great way of still engaging in reading, but in a more fun and accessible way, which promotes the use of inference and comprehension skills too. Whether you are reading a new work, an English translation of Manga, or an adaptation of an English curriculum staple, there’s still a lot to be gained from this genre. If you want to keep it local, you can even find graphic novel versions of the Victor Hugo classic, Toilers of the Sea, which Hugo wrote in Guernsey!

Tutoring Heroes Guernsey English tutor recommendation…
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee adapted by Fred Foreman
The Heartstopper Series by Alice Oseman

Film, TV and Theatre adaptations
There’s a reason that a classic becomes a classic, and that is the enduring nature of the stories, characters and themes. Luckily for students and their English tutors, this also means that there are great adaptations of many of the texts studied at both Key Stage 3 and GCSE level easily available. Watching an adaptation of a study text allows students to experience the text in a much more relatable way. Although the specifics of the dialogue may be altered, the main themes and character traits will be brought to life in a way which is both engaging and easier to access. Moreover, it gives parents a quicker and easier way of engaging with the texts that their children are studying.

Tutoring Heroes Guernsey English tutor recommendation…
BBC iPlayer – Great Expectations starring Olivia Coleman
Netflix – Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen
National Theatre At Home – rent a whole range of first class productions of plays including King Lear, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre and many more.

Hi-Lo Books
Often, young people with dyslexia or other additional needs find that books which match their reading level are written for younger children. This is not only embarrassing for them, underlining their challenges, but also not engaging or interesting. This can result in young people disengaging with reading for pleasure, which is a key behaviour in becoming a fluent and successful reader. HiLo books are designed to have high interest, low reading challenge, which makes them perfect for children who need additional support, whether this is from a teacher or English tutor, or at home.

Tutoring Heroes Guernsey English tutor recommendation…
Any books by the publisher Barrington Stoke for KS1 to Teens
The Red Sock Ninja Clan series by Peter Marney (kindle and print versions)

Online reading
More and more, children and young people are encouraged by English teachers and tutors to read online. Not only does this place a whole world of words at learners’ fingertips – with secure and appropriate cyber safety and parental monitoring of course – but also gives access to terrific content from some of the world’s leading publishers too. This is a good way of building research skills, as young people will need to know what content they’re looking for, and make choices which will best help them in their learning.

Tutoring Heroes Guernsey English tutor recommendation…
Primary age –
Key Stage 3 –

There are a whole range of apps available to support reading, and many designed for learners with specific learning needs. Your child’s teacher or English tutor will be able to offer guidance in which areas your child would benefit from using apps, but here are some of our favourites:

Tutoring Heroes Guernsey English tutor recommendation…
Visual Attention Therapy – Apple App Store
This app helps learners who struggle with scanning left to right, by gamifying the process, and encouraging practice of the skill over increasing lengths of time.

Reading Eggs – online
Reading Eggs offers learners a wide range of reading activities which can work alongside English tutoring. Some Guernsey schools already use this app, so check with your child’s teacher or tutor as they may already have a login.

Using technology
There are a variety of programmes available which convert speech to text, in fact many mobile phones have this feature as standard to aid accessibility. There are also programmes which use AI generated voices to allow you to have any piece of text read aloud. Although it is important for young people with additional English needs to rehearse their reading and writing, sometimes the main focus of learning is on another area, and so utilising these kinds of technologies can free up cognitive processing space.

Tutoring Heroes Guernsey English tutor recommendation…
Speechify – reads any document and allows you to choose the voice and speed. Some features can be used for free. Available online.

Otter – offers keyword findings and summaries, as well as sharing them with other users to annotate and allows for easy collaborative working. Available for iOS and Android.

Screen Free Alternatives
Families can do a lot to encourage and support reading at home, and out and about in Guernsey. Visiting one of the island’s great museums or galleries is an enjoyable and entertaining way to engage in both the local cultural scene and provide some reading in context opportunities too.

Tutoring Heroes Guernsey English tutor recommendation…
Castle Cornet, St Peter Port, Guernsey

Art for Guernsey, Mansell Street, St Peter Port

The final word…

There are lots of different ways of reading and engaging with text. Whilst it is important that children learn to decode, blend and segment, recognise sight words and ultimately derive meaning from letters on a page, that does not mean that there is not a great deal of both educational value and enjoyment which can come from other forms of reading. If you want some specific recommendations tailored to your child’s learning, why not get in touch with our team of specialist English tutors in Guernsey and we can find ways to help your child’s reading soar!






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