The Benefits of Paired Reading

Boost your child’s reading skills by following these three tips:

Paired reading, also called partner reading,  is a wonderful reading technique which helps children master the skill of reading.  It’s not only for children who are struggling, but also helps any child improve their fluency skills.  Paired reading can be used at home with you and your child, or in a classroom, pairing two readers, one more skilled than the other.

How to do paired reading:

You both begin reading from the same book at the same time. Your child can place his finger under the text as he goes initially, to set the pace. Don’t stop or pause unless your child asks you to.  I find dropping my voice slightly helps my son take the lead but I’m always there reading with him. The security comes in knowing that you are there to read through a difficult section or help when he struggles with pronunciation.

There are so many benefits:

Reading with someone encourages children to read in a safe and supported way.  Any fears about not being able to read are quickly allayed by hearing your voice with theirs. They become more confident. If they stop on a word, you keep going and they learn from listening to you.  Start with simple books at their level.  They will be encouraged to try reading books above their usual reading level once they get comfortable with the method.

Leslie Flax, a learning support teacher with many years of experience, believes paired reading is the key to improving a child’s fluency and confidence in reading.  She encourages parents to sit with their child in a calm and comfortable setting and read together, gently correcting mispronunciations and letting the child read alone or with help, using a signal of tapping on the book or word when they need help.

Paired reading at school
1. Group a high-fluency reader with a low-fluency reader

If done at school, match a more experienced reader with a reader who is struggling. When they hear the tricky words being pronounced and said with expression and rhythm, they learn to echo this.   Allow them a quiet space to read and make sure there is no judgement or teasing.  You can also try pairing similar level students together and let them work out tough words together and learn from each other. This way they won’t be self-conscious and they will understand that everyone struggles at times.

2. Let them choose their partners

Feeling vulnerable in front of a child you don’t get on with, can make the experience stressful.  Let the children choose partners.  Stress that they are there to learn from each other.  Struggling readers who prefer to read aloud with another struggling reader can choose that option, while those wanting more experience can choose a more fluent reader.  The struggling readers will need more monitoring but they can encourage and motivate each other.

3. Create rules for feedback

Let the children discuss and agree on basic rules.  Examples are: no shaming, no shouting, carefully suggesting pronounciation and letting each person have a turn to try sounding out the word.

Need some help?

See the method from EP Tool Box here. It’s really simple to follow.

Bellavista School, a  renowned South African remedial school, runs online paired reading courses teaching parents how to do paired reading.  This is perfect for anyone not sure of the process.



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