A child who reads from an early age is more likely to do well at school and go onto higher education, than a child who doesn’t read at all. This is why, as a parent, one of the most important jobs you have in terms of your child’s educational development is to help them to read and encourage them to do it as much as possible.
It can be difficult, though. With so many distractions in the form of video games, the internet, TV, and social media, finding the time to get away from all those screens and read a book might not be a priority. However, if you can use any of the following tips (or a combination of them) to encourage your children to read, you’ll be doing well. Read on to find out more.
Children are keen to follow their parents’ example, and if they never see you reading but you keep telling them they have to, they might not understand the importance; they might even push against the idea. After all, if they want to be more like you and you don’t read, why should they?
Because of this, it’s important to read. Just 10 minutes a day, with your child, can be enough to cement in them an understanding of how enjoyable the process is and how important it is in their lives. Start this very early by teaching letter recognition, and your reading time won’t ever seem out of place or unordinary. If you’re not an avid reader yourself but you want your child to be because you know it opens up opportunities for them, you don’t have to read a book. Reading a newspaper or magazine will work just as well.
Your Sunday afternoon reading time (for example) may even become something you both look forward to more than anything else, and whether you read to one another or you both sit together and read in silence, it will be worth changing up your schedule to incorporate it.
Books always look great, even if they’re in a big pile on the floor or scattered across a coffee table. It’s easy to keep books neat and tidy on a bookshelf, but this can be detrimental to the idea you’re trying to give to your children that reading is something that can and should be done as often as possible, no matter where you are.
Instead, have books everywhere. There can be a main bookshelf so you know where the bulk of the books are, and a bookshelf in your child’s room is very important so they are always surrounded by books, but having some in every room of the house, means that the little ones are much more likely to pick books up from a very early age, and good reading habits will quickly be formed. It might even be that you don’t have to encourage reading at all, and your child simply does it because they enjoy it and it’s a normal part of their everyday life.
When encouraging your children to read more, you don’t have to be a purist and only allow them to read actual, physical books. If they enjoy their technology and screen time, you can use this enjoyment to encourage them to read more; they can use an eReader, for example, or they can use a reading app on a tablet or smartphone.
The point is, the world has evolved and technology is a big part of everyone’s lives. Children have been born into this world which is much more advanced than their parents’ childhood would have been, so why not utilize the different technological advances that exist if it’s going to make your child find their love of reading? You might prefer them to read a paperback, but if the Kindle is what they like more, at least they’re reading and their education is getting a boost.
Although your home is more than likely going to have some comfortable places for reading, from beds to sofas, or even the bath if that works for you, this might not be what works for your child. Their bed is where they go to sleep (or where they listen to you reading to them rather than trying independent reading); the sofa is where they watch TV so they can feel distracted if they are asked to sit on it in silence with a book. As for the bath, children aren’t the most careful of beings, and a paperback mixed with a child and water would not fare well; plus children’s baths are very quick and they don’t tend to use them as a method of relaxation, unlike adults.
So what can be done if there is nowhere your child feels comfortable reading in or on? The answer is simple; make somewhere for them to read. A reading area that is only used for that one purpose will feel very special, and it will trigger the idea of reading in them when they are in it. It might be a bay windowsill, for example, that you can fill with cushions. It could be an area of their bedroom that is separate from the rest of the room in some way. It might even be a pile of cushions or a spare duvet in the corner of the room. Whatever it is, this is their reading space and it’s all theirs. The excitement of this added to the fun of reading will mean they want to use it more and more.
Is there a child alive who doesn’t enjoy playing a made-up game or being given a specific challenge by their parents?Most love this kind of contest, and if you can create one that links to their reading and encourages them to do more of it, that’s perfect.
You could challenge them to read a certain number of books in a month, for example, or to try a different genre of book to one they would normally read. If you visit the library (which is an excellent idea in itself), you could challenge them to find a book with a red cover or one with a dragon on the front, or anything else. As long as you stick to the children’s section of the library, it won’t matter what books they find as you can take them home and try them out to see what they think.
If a child is really excited by a book, they will be more than happy to discuss it and explain all the different details they have picked up from it. This should be actively encouraged, and it might even become part of your reading schedule and routine. After reading for 30 minutes, for example, you might then chat about what the book is about, what exciting things have happened, what they think might happen next, and so on.
By discussing the book in more detail, not only can you be sure your children are reading, but you can also encourage them to think more deeply about the words on the page. This is another element of reading that will help them at school and in the future.
It’s all very well to encourage your children to read and to insist that they do so, but if they aren’t having fun at the same time, you might be doing more harm than good; they won’t develop a lifelong love of reading, and instead they will try to avoid it wherever possible.
There are a variety of ways that you can make reading fun. You might choose books that relate to your child’s interests, or perhaps have them act out passages of the story. You could even take elements of the books you’re reading and add them to your real-life; if, for example, a character ate a certain food, your child could try that food too.