I've been thinking a lot about activities that parents can do at home with their children to help support their reading development.
Firstly the high tech version:
Teach Your Monster to Read is a great free website for children to visit. It works best if you complete it along side your child, at least until they get the hang of it. Teach Your Monter to Read focuses on letter-sound knowledge and sight word recognition. They have just released an app too.
Reading Eggs is another great website, you do need to pay to join but they do have free trials so you can test it out first. Again it works best if you sit alongside your child while they work through the activities and drills. Once they are more knowledgeable they may be able to do more by themselves. They also have several apps available, some of which are free.
The low tech version to help children learn to read can be approached from two angles; sight word recognition and letter-sound knowledge.
Sight words are the most commonly used words in text, often they are words that you can't sound out. Sight word games and activities include using flashcards, playing memory, playing snap, hiding sight words around the room to have a treasure hunt with. Click here for some sight word cards to practise with. Choose 3 or 4 cards to start with and as your child learns them add another 1 or 2 at a time until they know each word. Practise every day for a few minutes a day. Most of the early reading books that I teach children to read have lots of sight words in them, the more sight words they know the easier it is to read the books fluently.
Learning the sound each letter makes can be taught with the same type of games and activities. At Totara Park School we use Jolly Phonics to help children learn to recognise their letters. Jolly Phonics is a phonic programme that gives each letter an action and a picture to help children make the sound. The picture and action mnemonic help children to remember the sound and written letter. (Click here for a copy of our alphabet card.) Once the children know the letter-sounds using the letter and picture cue, give the written letter only and practise that. Start with letters of your child's name, then S, A, T, P, I, N. Introduce a few new letters a week until you are practising all of the sounds every day. Sparklebox have a lot of worksheets you can print out and work on at home together.
So, if your child is struggling, or you want to give them extra support the best thing you can do is listen to them read each night and practise those sight words and letter-sounds as often as possible.