Reading to our kids and making sure they are reading on their own is a difficult task to uphold. In fact, reading may even become a chore and something the child sees as a punishment. It doesn’t have to be like this. So, here are some tips to help make reading a natural part of your day.
Tip 1: Read aloud to your kids.
When I was a teacher, I specialized in reading and writing – helping children learn strategies that could be transferred to better comprehending any text and conveying these elements into their writing. When parents would come in for conferences regarding how they could assist in improving their child’s grades, I would always give them the same answer: “Read aloud to your child.” It didn’t matter if they were in second grade or fifth grade, the advice remained the same.
According to the Department of Education, “The more students read or are read to for fun on their own time and at home, the higher their reading scores, generally. (literacyproj.org).” What does this mean for parents? The more we read to our kids, the better readers they will be. “Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter... Books for kids actually contain fifty percent more words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently than regular conversation, television or radio. (literacyproj.org).”
In other words, the one activity that takes five to ten minutes of our day quite possibly embodies the quintessential learning experience for children providing them with exposure to new vocabulary, a fluent reading example and essentially equipping them with the reading tools that they will need later in life.
Tip 2: Read your own books.
We all know that kids learn from what we do, not what we say. Seeing a parent who chooses to read during their free time rather than scrolling through their phone or watching television will encourage your child to make the same kinds of choices.
Tip 3: Focus on the quality of reading time.
We often tend to equate the number of pages read to the experience reaching its end. Saying, “If you read twenty pages, then you can be done.” The problem with this is that not only does it view reading as a chore to be checked off, but it also conveys to our children that speed reading – and not necessarily comprehension – is the item at value.
Practice reading with your child, even if it is just for five minutes. Listen to them read and stop them intermittently to ask questions relevant to what they just read. You can do this while you are cooking, driving in the car, doing dishes or sitting on the couch. Anytime works.
Taking small steps to encourage positive reading behaviors is all it takes to change reading from a chore to something your kids look forward to doing. Happy reading!