Paired reading

A paired reading program can be set up within school, or alternatively parents could be supported and encouraged to take on the role of tutor for their child.

Peer tutoring » Paired reading

A paired reading program can be set up within school, or alternatively parents could be supported and encouraged to take on the role of tutor for their child.

Paired reading - what are the advantages?

  • Increased enthusiasm: children are encouraged to pursue their own interests in reading material.
  • Lots of praise: pupils are told when they are doing well, instead of only errors being highlighted.
  • Emphasis of understanding: not just mechanically reading, but getting the meaning out of the words on the page.
  • No failure: it is impossible not to get a word right within 5 seconds or so. With paired reading it is easier for children to make sensible guesses at new words, based on the meaning of the surrounding words.
  • Children are encouraged to read with expression and the right pacing.
  • Children are given a perfect example of how to pronounce difficult words.
  • There is some evidence that just giving children more attention can actually improve their reading.

Explore a complete list of the benefits of paired reading written by Professor Keith Topping.

Getting started with paired reading

Refer to the Getting started section for full details on introducing a peer tutoring program. A summary can be found below:

1. Planning a program and identifying objectives

The first step in introducing a paired reading program is to consider what benefits the program is expected to have. The recommendation is to keep the objectives modest when first introducing a program with the aim to ‘do it small and well’.

Get started: Sample paired reading planning documents have been created which could be used in parent tutored or in peer tutored reading projects.

2. Pairing students

Cross-age tutoring appears to offer slightly greater benefit for tutor than tutee. A study of cross-age peer tutoring showed that the lowest attaining pairs actually made most progress, and a two-year gap seems to support both tutee and tutor learning.

One way of matching pupils across classes is to match the highest attaining pupil in the older class with the highest attaining child in the younger class through to the lowest attaining pupil in the older class being matched with the lowest attaining pupil in the younger class (making adjustments if necessary). This enables the teacher to focus support on lower attaining pairs. Education Endowment Foundation

3. Training

Training is essential and should be carried out with both tutor and tutee present. A training session should include verbal, visual and written information-giving (bilingual if necessary). It should also have a demonstration, immediate practice with a real live activity, feedback for participants about how they did and further individual coaching for those who are struggling.

The video and resources below can be used as part of a training program to introduce peer tutoring techniques to students.

An introductory video guide to Paired reading:

This video gives a brief overview of how a teacher could introduce a paired reading method to their class.

1. First the teacher introduces the method to the children.
2. The teacher demonstrates paired reading to the class.
3. Students practice doing paired reading straight away.
4. Pairs start by reading aloud together.
5. When the tutee is confident to read alone the tutee signals to the tutor to stop reading.
6. If an error is made when reading, the tutor allows five seconds to self-correct.
7. If needed, the tutor will read the word correctly and ask the tutee to repeat the word. The pair then continue to read together.
8. Discussion is also important to support and check on comprehension.

Find out more:

Paired reading: A guide for peer tutors

  • A guide for student tutors and for parent tutors to introduce paired reading.

Paired reading: A flowchart

  • A flowchart that can be adapted for tutors to use during paired reading.

4. Monitoring progress

Emphasise self-checking. Some simple form of self-recording is desirable, and both members of the pair should participate in this. Periodic checking of these records by the coordinating professional takes relatively little professional time but is very valuable in making everyone feel as if they are working together.

If the time is available, direct observation of the pair in action, either in school or at their home, can be extremely revealing and diagnostically helpful. This can be done on an individual basis with a pair who are having particular difficulty, or in a group setting at a more general "booster" meeting.

Find out more:

Sample reading record

  • In reading projects, the pairs often keep a diary or record of what they have done. Have a look at this example reading record.

Dictionary of praise

  • A reading diary, a dictionary of praise that tutors can refer to when doing paired reading, and a certificate that can be awarded to the tutee.

5. Evaluating

In order to ascertain the success of a paired reading program, evaluation is key. The example evaluation documents below will support you to gather feedback from all those involved including tutors, tutees and parents.

Paired reading: Evaluation

  • A set of printable documents to evaluate and monitor progress during a paired reading program.