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English 7-8

Why You Should Help Your Child Read Widely in Years 7 and 8

In this article, we will show you 5 reasons why reading is highly important for your child and guide you through 3 tips to help them read more!

Is your child reluctant, or even refusing, to read now that they’re in High School? Well, in this article we go through the benefits to show you why you should help your child read widely in Years 7 and 8 and provide you with some tips to get them engaged!


Why you should help your child read widely in Years 7 and 8


What is wide reading?

Wide reading refers to the practice of reading consistently and reading a wide range of texts and text types. This can range from reading novels to poems, dramas, magazines and newspaper articles, or simply reading different genres and topics.

Often, this means that your child should spend a minimum of 20-30 minutes independently reading every day. Aim for a minimum total of 1.5 hours of reading a week!


Why should you help your child read widely in Years 7 and 8?

Aside from being an important syllabus dot point for students from K-10, wide reading also has many benefits. Let’s see what they are!


1. Reading helps develop literary and language skills

Reading widely and reading often allows your child to be exposed to a variety of writing styles. This also means that they can learn new vocabulary, proper grammar and word use, and sentence structures.

Say goodbye to memorising dictionaries because children will unconsciously absorb all this new information when they read!

Reading is a great learning tool as well as being fun.


Vocabulary and proper word-use

The more they read, the more they will come across new words. They might learn synonyms for words they already know, scientific names or jargon, or new descriptive words. These varieties of new words all add up in the end!

A US study shows that children with parents who read to them in their first 5 years know more than 1.4 million words compared to children who aren’t exposed to reading during these years. Imagine how many more words your child will continue to learn if they continue reading throughout High School!

When your child comes across new words multiple times, they will slowly understand how it is used and when it should be used. So, they can slowly incorporate it into their writing and speaking!

Knowing a broad range of vocabulary allows your child to find the right word in their writing and speaking to get the message across clearly. This is not only an essential skill in High School but throughout life!

Furthermore, having a wide range of vocabulary also makes independent reading easier and more fun. Your child won’t need your help to define difficult words anymore because they already know them. This also makes reading more enjoyable because they will better understand the text and feel more accomplished.


Grammar and proper sentence structure 

In a similar way as vocabulary, reading also improves your child’s grammar use and sentence structures. The more your child is exposed to different writing styles, the more they learn proper grammar use and sentence structures.

This will inadvertently improve their speaking and writing skills as they unconsciously mimic the writing style of the different authors they read.



2. Reading widely boosts imagination and creativity

Reading is known to boost your child’s imagination and creativity. This is because children often relate their experiences to the plot, whether it is the same emotions, sense of purpose, or maybe cultural experiences.

When they read texts, they use their imagination to visualise the events and characters. They learn to feel and think like the characters and they build a whole imaginary world in their mind based on the author’s description.

These visualisation and imagination skills are strengthened with every text they read, which is especially useful for creative writing, essay writing, and most importantly, real life!

No writer is fully original! They all draw ideas from inspiration around them.

So, when your child is given a stimulus for a creative writing piece, they can easily draw inspiration from the wide range of books they read to help them come up with a creative piece. Without these inspirations, it is quite difficult to produce a strong creative writing piece.

This also applies to essay writing too! Texts explore real-life issues and often hold important messages. Your child can borrow these ideas and explore them in their essays.

Most importantly, wide reading will help your child stay creative in their daily lives. Having a vivid imagination will help with problem-solving when they come across challenges in life. It can also develop into interesting hobbies and even help them maintain their emotional health. Creative thinking is one of the most sought after skills in business today and reading is a surefire way to develop the imagination required for it!



Help your child develop essential reading and writing skills!

At Matrix+ Online Course, our subject-matter experts will help your child go through different texts and break them down to analyse them. Learn more about our Matrix+ Online Course. 

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3. Reading is proven to improve concentration

Reading is a great way to help your child improve their concentration. When you read, you need to give 100% attention to the words.

If you’re distracted by conversations around you or the bird on the window, you won’t understand what you just read.

Because of this, reading helps you zone into your book and ignore external distractions for a long period of time. This is an essential skill for your child throughout their lives as it will help them when they’re studying, in class, working, or doing chores. They will be able to tune out any distractions and develop their attention span.

In simple terms, the more your child reads, the better they are at staying focused for a long period of time because it is impossible to read without concentration!


4. Reading develops analytical thinking skills

Analytical thinking skills consists of the ability to collect, visualise and conceptualise information, and analyse it through problem-solving. This is a crucial skill for everyday life as it enables your child to identify patterns, brainstorm new ideas, interpret information and synthesise different pieces of data together.

They will be able to analyse and weigh the pros and cons before jumping into new and/or challenging situations.

For instance, your child will need to use analytical thinking skills to help them decide between hanging out with their friends after school or going home and finishing up their assignment due tomorrow. It is a great skill for decision making.

Analytical thinking skills are also especially useful for writing essays in High School too! As your child progresses through high school, teachers will expect a higher level of critical thinking. This may be the distinction between a B or C essay and an A.

Reading helps your child develop these skills as it encourages them to think in new ways. Remember how reading helps your child use their imagination and creativity? Well, these two skills also help them conceptualise ideas and problem solve in creative ways; both of which are important aspects of analytical skills.

When they read, they learn to ask questions about the book, or about the world. These are signs of analytical thinking! You can also encourage them to be curious and break down the text further. Ask them a few questions and encourage them to ask you questions about the text. This will be very helpful in developing their analytical thinking skills.



5. Reading helps children learn about the real world and understand themselves

Books are often inspired by the real world, whether it’s a political commentary like Animal Farm, the composer’s personal life like Mao’s Last Dancer, or historical events like The Boy Who Wore Striped Pyjamas.

That’s why reading a wide range of books is a good way for your child to learn more about the world around them, develop emotional intelligence, and understand their place in the world.

You know that feeling when you’re so immersed in a book that you feel like you’re actually living through the character? This is an example of a composer sharing experiences with you and your brain changing with this new knowledge.

When you read, the same parts of the brain are activated as though you are experiencing the story in real life! Your brain is unable to distinguish the differences between reading and real life.

Accordingly, reading is a great chance for your child to explore and learn about different cultures, people, events, and the human condition. It’s like travelling the world without physically leaving. This also helps them empathise with different people and will make them less likely to believe stereotypes.

Many children find that reading helps them feel less alone because they connect with the characters and the character’s journeys.

They see how characters deal with problems and grow, which helps your child tackle their own problems too. Often the best way to grow and deal with personal problems is to learn from others.



How can you help your child read widely?

In the modern world, there are so many distractions ranging from phones to the TV to the iPad. It is hard to find some time for your child to read.

You will find that once your child starts High School, they won’t feel the need to read regularly as they did in Primary School.

This is because they can now independently read and they aren’t required to log in weekly books. This means it is up to you to encourage your child to continue reading! We know this might sound hard, so we’ve gathered some top tips to help you help your child read widely in Years 7 and 8.


1. Read to and with your child

Remember, you are your child’s best example! Children often learn by watching and imitating adults in their lives. So when you read to and with them, you are setting a good example for them to follow. This will encourage them to continue reading.

In most cases, parents stop reading to their children when they reach High School. However, research shows that parents stop reading to their children too early.

Reading to your children, even when they’re teenagers, is a great way to bond and learn together!

You can use different storytelling voices which allow both of you to immerse yourselves into the story. You can also discuss the narrative and characters together, learn new vocabulary and ask each other questions about the text.

Also, reading to your child is a great way to improve their literary fluency. It helps them better understand and comprehend what is happening. They will also get a better sense of the right pace for reading fluently, which will be reflected in their independent reading time. When your child expresses that they no longer want you to read to them, you can start reading with them. This means reading the same book with them so you can both discuss the plot, characters and other parts of the book together.

This is a good way to help your child develop their perspectives and stances of the book.



2. Encourage your child to read what they want, not what you think they need

Wide reading is about reading a wide range of texts and text types. However, that doesn’t mean that your child is forced to read a particular text.

Instead, encourage your child to find different text types and new topics that interest them or that they are curious about reading.

Once you start forcing your child to read particular texts, they may be turned off from reading in general.

So it’s a good idea to let your child read the books, magazines, or articles that they want to read, even if you think they’ve read too many books of the same genre. Some will want to continue reading the genre that they know and like, and others might want to expand their horizons and try a new genre or topic, and others will want to reread texts. That is also a good idea because rereading books will give them a deeper perspective of the text.

All you should do is to help them find texts that they enjoy and introduce new texts that they might like!



3. Allocate a specific time in the day for reading (and join them!)

We know children can be easily distracted by electronics. That’s why it’s important that you allocate a specific time just for reading, and limit their use of electronics.

Research has shown that using electronics before going to sleep can cause disruptions to our sleep quality and circadian cycle. This is because the blue light emitted from screens can affect our circadian rhythm.

So, it’s a good idea to unwind an hour before bed… and what’s a better way to do this than with a book?

Allocate at least 20-30 minutes of reading time before your child’s bedtime.

Get the whole family involved so your child won’t get distracted by the dog or their siblings.

Having family reading time is also a great way to bond together and unwind for bed – even for parents! It’s a win-win situation.



Reading is just the first step…

At Matrix+ Online Course, our subject-matter experts will help your child go through different texts and break them down to analyse them. Develop essential English reading and writing skills now. Learn more about our Matrix+ Online Course. 


Written by Tammy Dang

Tammy is a former student of Matrix and is now studying Law / Media (Screen and Sound Production) at UNSW. She is a Digital Content Writer for the Matrix Education blog. Tammy aspires to become a lawyer in the future while continuing to run her art business.


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