10 Tips to help your child read
Read with them- I personally do not do this as often as I should, and my children still enjoy reading. The ideal is to do it daily and my reality is that it doesn’t happen. I was one to think that it always had to be a bed time read and I have come to realise that it can be done at any time. Kids are just happy to be read to regardless of the time. So, whenever you have the energy, time and opportunity, please read with your child.
Get books suitable for their age and stage of development- I know this sounds obvious but getting an age or cognitive stage appropriate book is important. If you get a book with little picture and lots of words for a 2-year-old child, they most likely will get bored. This reduces or limits their ability to use their imagination, ability to predict the story or explore that book independently or with an adult. The wrong book can be under stimulating or over stimulating, especially when it is too easy or difficult for them. For example, although my son loves reading, he sometimes gets lazy. When he chooses books at the library, he will sometimes sneak in what I call ‘baby book’. My son is six years old (nearly seven) and he is an advanced reader, but he still wants a quick read sometimes. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is vital to get an appropriate book for your child, so I also choose some books for him as well.
Let them choose the books- There is something fun about choosing your own book. It makes the child feel like listening to the story being read, is like taking responsibility for your actions/ choices in a good way. Before we started home educating the children, we had a few books of our own and they also got books from school. However, they outgrew some of those books, and they refuse to give up the others. A forth nightly visit to the library is part of our home-school routine. Cultivate the love of reading in your child, why don’t you make going to the library (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) part of your routine? Always buy them books as part of their birthday and Christmas present. You can also get access to lots of free books online at oxfordowl.
Get interesting books– We read at the library and take time choosing our books. They choose the books they want to read, then I choose books that relates to the topic that we are doing. Sometimes we get books of something that is of interest to them. For example, my son likes street dance he got a book about that and learnt a couple of moves. He doesn’t go to dance classes but thought himself by watching others do it and using a book! My daughter also got 3 books about ballet, at the time, she took classes and learnt new moves. She took that book to her cousin’s house and they all learnt a ballet move. Sometimes, my daughter throws random facts at me, and when I ask how/where she heard that, she says, it was from a book. I always confirm these facts with google to make sure, and they are mostly correct!
Let them see you read- You must lead by example, gone are the days of ‘do as I say and not as I do’. They need to see you reading. When they see this, it makes them feel all grown up reading and they see reading as an important part of daily life. When mum or dad or both do it, then it’s usually cool. Kids emulate, this is the best way to learn; by copying. Personally, I don’t read as much as I want to and when I do, it is on my iPad. They know that I am reading and not watching YouTube, just saying (trying to keep a straight face).
Don’t use reading as a form of punishment- Unfortunately, sometimes reading can be used as a form of punishment. This is where kids are sent to read after they have misbehaved and have been disciplined, this saddens me. We want our kids to develop a love for reading not hate. When you associate negative feelings to something, you most likely will not want to do it, or if you have to you will not enjoy doing it. Reading should be something children look forward to doing or at least enjoy doing it. For example, my twin 6-year-olds both enjoy reading, my daughter looks forward to reading and reads when she can, my son needs to be encouraged to read and when he starts, he enjoys it and sometimes carries on without being prompted. I often will find books on their bed, they read at bedtime instead of sleeping! They could have easily played with their toys (or fight) instead of reading books. So, reading should not be a form of punishment.
Do or join a reading challenge- You can start a reading challenge in your household or join an existing reading challenge. For example, we always join the library’s reading challenge during the summer holiday. You are to read 6 books in six weeks or something like that. At the end of the challenge, you get a certificate from the librarian and other goodies. The kids enjoy doing it, so why not?
Do fun book reviews- You can do a fun book review, get the children to draw their favourite part of the book or write about it. They can talk about it as a show ‘n’ tell activity or video or voice record their book review. They love the sound of their own voice, it encourages them to read and make improvements. Also, when it’s a video, you can share it with their grandparents, dad or mum and they get lots of positive feedbacks. This encourages them to read more. We have friends whose kids started a YouTube channel and they do book reviews on there. Check them out https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH2JB7Y4vc4dRyEr_Os562w. My kids love watching them, it reinforces that reading is fun!
Role play easy and fun stories- I remember reading ‘we are going on a bear hunt’ so many times I knew it by heart! One time, we went for a walk in the woods and I started role playing and reciting out loud we are going on a bear hunt, we are…’ the children’s imagination went wild, they found the mud, the river, the cave and we all had a blast. You can role play anywhere, in your living room, your local park and in their bedroom. I must admit, we don’t do this very often, but it was heaps of fun.
Surround them with books- I do not mean to surround them with books to overwhelm them but to stimulate them. Let them always have access to books and if need be, create an environment that encourages reading and you can also have reading or quiet time as part of your daily routine if that works for you. Why not put books in the car, buggy, there are books you can read in the bath! I hope you have found some of these tips helpful, please don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter https://www.floutlook.com/newsletter/ and you will get an email every time I upload a new blog post. Also, don’t forget to get my free ebook.