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Let's Read: successful paired reading

By Jeniyanti Rijanto


Jeniyanti Rijanto is a specialist psychologist in private practice with a passion for helping children with learning difficulties, especially dyslexia. Read her profile

I once had a university lecturer who managed to complete her phD education even though she couldn't read a word when she was six. She didn't know she had dyslexia then, which stopped her from acquiring basic reading skills. So how did she overcome this and became a proficient reader later on? She told me her mother actually read to her every day from a young age and continued doing so until she began to recognise words on her own. That to me is the power of paired reading, which will improve your child's literacy.


What is paired reading?

Paired reading simply means reading together. You can either have two persons reading together with one shadowing the other or just one person reading while the other points at the words. Sometimes, one can start first and the other takes over halfway. There are many ways of doing paired reading but the whole idea behind it is for someone who can't read or is weak in reading to experience the process of reading regularly. By keeping it fun and relaxed, it also cultivates interest and motivation to read, which eventually results in better literacy skills.


6 Tips for successful paired reading

- Find a comfortable place with good warm lighting and cozy cushions to set up a "reading haven".

- Get books that are appropriate for the child's reading level and encourage him/her to select a book of interest.

- Look at the pictures first and talk about them, relating to the child's experience.

- Start reading together according to the agreed arrangement. Non-readers may prefer that you read to them as they point at the words whereas less confident readers may like to attempt reading on their own with your support. For instance, they can prompt you to read unfamiliar words through a simple gesture like tapping on these words.

- To improve reading fluency, you can get your child to read the same book several times but each time, he/she can try to read faster. You can model the speed by reading together with the child during practice. Make it fun by using a timer and record the time on a chart. Most children like to see their progress and will stay competitive to beat their own records.

- Last but not least, it is very important to keep the paired reading session fun and informal. No pressure, no high expectations. The aim is to encourage the child to gain knowledge through reading and not put him/her off reading. The more the child enjoys the process of reading, the more he/she will strive to become a good reader.

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