AT every age and stage in children’s education across the country, in all schools, teachers are working hard to improve the literacy of pupils in their care. Many parents believe English teachers are the only ones that teach literacy to their child, but this is not true – all teachers today are “teachers of literacy”; in order to do well in their exams, pupils need a thorough grasp of literacy skills in all of their subjects. To succeed in the fast moving world of today, pupils increasingly need to be literate: in the work place, in their encounters with colleagues, family, friends and complex organisations.

Let’s look at some important facts:

• Less than half of 8 to 16 year olds have read a book in the last month.

• 49% of children and young adults think that reading is boring.

• Children who enjoy reading very much are 5 times more likely to be above average readers.

• 22% of children report that no one at home encourages them to read.

• 1 in 3 children do not own a book.

• 62% of boys do not enjoy writing and pupils at Key Stage 4 are the least likely to enjoy writing.

• Pupils on free school meals have much less confidence in their writing ability.

• Research shows that the average length of a pupil's contribution to a class discussion is 4 words.

• A 4 year old with professional parents will have been exposed to 50 million words compared to 12 million words for a child from a disadvantaged background.

As a parent there is so much that you can do, no matter what age or stage of their education your child is at, to improve their literacy skills and therefore enhance their life skills and chances to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life. Here are some every day tips:

• Show your child that it is as much fun to read a book as it is to watch TV or play on the computer. As a parent we model expectations to our children; if we are seen to be reading a book, newspaper or magazine, our children are more likely to do the same.

• Make sure that your home contains literature that will interest your teenager. Encourage your teenager to read books, magazines, newspapers or the sports guide. Leave them around your home. It doesn’t really matter what your child reads as long as they read!

• Share articles you’ve read from the newspaper or a magazine, especially if it’s something your teenager is interested in. If you do not get a daily newspaper, try to encourage your child to watch the news or documentaries on television and discuss with them what their views/ideas or thoughts are about what they have watched. Remind them that the programme “Goggle Box” is doing exactly that; watching something and then discussing. Be open to your children having a completely different perspective to yourselves as parents.

• Play audio books in the car. This will encourage reading for enjoyment. If they do not like listening to “stories” try to get biographies of their favourite pop star/sports personalities or TV celebrities. Again discuss what you are listening to.

• Ask teenagers to recommend books for younger readers in the family. If at all possible, ask teenagers to read to their younger brothers and sisters and ask them to make it fun and interesting for their younger siblings. This can be by adding different accents, intonations, speed of delivery in reading, asking questions or making up a new story of their own.

• Most teenagers love their phones, ipads, etc and so as a parent embrace this and encourage the downloading of e-books on their devices or the purchasing, as presents, of e-book readers such as Kindles.

• Take advantage of windows of opportunity; look for natural opportunities throughout the day to support literacy development. Have your child write the shopping list for you, ask them to direct you using their “google phone app” and by reading the traffic signs as you drive, ask them to complete forms on your behalf, follow up a complaint on your behalf and then feed back to you, follow instructions and “set up” a new piece of electrical equipment or technology, and then teach you how to use it.

• Tell them how your day has been, relay stories/anecdotes and then encourage them to do the same. At first this may be awkward or non-existent, but persevere.

Remember every little trick you can do or use to encourage them to read, write or speak will help them to be more confident in their literacy skills. Go on…give it a go, you may be surprised with what they are willing to do.