4 simple tips to improve reading ability and performance in tests. In a week there will be a difference, but turn these 4 tips into a routine going forward and you will see clear, long-term progression.

1) Scanning text for general meaning

We all do it as part of our daily lives – scan over a bit of text, barely reading it at all, and make sense of it. Whether it’s a football report, front page news, a dull letter from Sky TV. Next time a piece of junk mail drops on to the doormat, or there’s a newspaper hanging around, ask your child to say what it’s about, in the most general terms imaginable ie. Chelsea won, there may have been a problem with the manager, or; The letter’s trying to sell you something to do with more channels etc.

The ability to run your eyes over something for meaning is particularly hard for lovely, conscientious children who want to do everything to their best ability. Tear up the rule-book and do one of these a day.

2) Reading together at bedtime

Even older children need the opportunity to read aloud. Let them read half a page or so and then you can finish the chapter for them if they are finding it arduous. You will learn so much from listening. If they go too fast and tumble over the words, slow them and encourage them to use the punctuation carefully. Go back over sentences that they didn’t make sense of and help out.  Keep it relaxed and take over if it becomes stressful – even mid-page.

3) Chatting at the end of a chapter (or the whole book if it’s a short one)

Don’t play the teacher and ask questions all the time. It spoils everything! I used to travel on the Tube and every day there was a poor little girl reading aloud to her mother. She had to sound out each word laboriously with no sense of the story or the purpose of what she had in front of her.

Pick one or two specific facts to question, and see if the details are going in.

Ask ‘armchair psychology’ questions. Why did the mother smile at that point? What worried the father? Why did the boy suddenly begin to hurry?

4) Buying this little book from amazon:

11 plus Vocabulary by Rose McGowan

The exercises are varied and quick. Do one a day together if possible –  idioms, synonyms and difficult spellings will really help their performance in tests.

That’s it.